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City of Bakersfield to open multiple cooling centers citywide in June

The heat in Bakersfield can be dangerous for vulnerable populations, and in response, the city is launching cooling centers across Bakersfield.
senior center cooling center
Posted at 5:16 PM, May 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-16 21:39:51-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Summer is right around the corner, and people are putting away their blankets and heaters and bringing out the fans and sunblock. Hotter temperatures have already arrived, which means people will be looking for ways to beat the heat, and the weather could turn dangerous for some.

Community splash pads and spray parks are a great way for kids and families to enjoy the summer weather, cool off, and stay active, but it's not a feasible solution for everyone.

The senior community faces issues when it comes to cooling off, and according to Kern County Public Health Health Equity Officer Jasmin Ochoa, the city is already preparing to provide assistance.

"It can really affect anyone, but older adults are at higher risk of heat-related illness. There's medicines and other chronic illness that may affect your ability to adjust to those higher temperature days," said Ochoa.

jasmin ochoa
Jasmin Ochoa, Health Equity Officer, Kern County Public Health

According to Ochoa, some seniors may not even be aware of potential risks they may have due to their medications. She says that certain medications can make people more sensitive to heat, which can result in different kinds of effects.

Ochoa says there are some general signs to look out for if you think someone might be struggling in the heat.

"Some of those signs are sudden dizziness, muscle cramps, headaches, weakness, body temperature may be above 102 degrees, nausea or vomiting," said Ochoa.

Ochoa also says that sipping water throughout the day, even if you're not actively thirsty, and finding a shaded area to help regulate your body temperature are some quick solutions to overheating.

In the long term, the City of Bakersfield is taking heat-related health risks into consideration and is preparing to launch multiple cooling centers around the city.

Jeremy Oliver, director for Kern County Aging and Adult Services, says their efforts to build more cooling centers began in 2007.

"We know there's a lot of people, because of utility costs, may not be able to afford to run an air conditioning unit throughout that whole temperature high points of the day, and so operating these cooling centers creates that opportunity to for them to go to a safe place, to be cool, and to relax," said Oliver.

Oliver says the city has seen older people die due to heat exhaustion, which was their overall reason for starting these cooling centers. He says the centers are based on outdoor temperature criteria and specific needs in Bakersfield.

jeremy oliver
Jeremy Oliver, Director, Kern County Aging and Adult Services

"We rely on the National Weather Service to give us predictions at least 24 hours in advance, and obviously 72 hours in advance for weekends, so if they reach certain thresholds for Bakersfield," said Oliver. "Bakersfield, for example, it would be 105 degrees."

According to Oliver, once the temperature criteria is met, the centers will open, and the city will send out a public notice about it 24 hours in advance.

Golden Empire Transit is also helping to keep people cool this summer. GETBus will be offering free rides on days when temperatures become unbearable.

Both Oliver and Ochoa agree that the best thing to do to keep your body temperature regulated is to stay hydrated. Ochoa offers additional tips for staying cool this summer.

"Wear loose clothing, apply sunscreen, wear a hat, and of course, when possible, find a shaded area or an indoor space with air conditioning," said Ochoa.

A list of cooling center locations will be available on June 1. In addition to opening the cooling centers, Oliver says the city will also be working with GETBus to provide transportation to the cooling centers.


Extreme temperatures, hot or cold, can be risky, dangerous, and even deadly if they're not taken seriously and prepared for. The National Institute on Aging has advice for the vulnerable senior population, but their heat health tips are useful to anyone who needs to take care of themselves in extreme heat.

The top piece of advice is to stay hydrated, and the best hydration is always water. Sugary sports drinks, caffeinated teas, coffees and sodas, and alcoholic beverages take water out of your body to get through your system, and actually end up dehydrating you. Water is best for hydration.

Wear loose-fitting and light-colored clothing if you're going to be outside. Blocking the sun's rays while allowing the air to flow freely around you will keep you cooler than even uncovered skin.

Wearing sunscreen will also keep you feeling cooler than not, as the heat of the sun won't be getting compounded by the burning of your skin at the same time. Even better, you won't have a burn to contend with after the sun goes down.

Consider the temperature when choosing activities and stay indoors entirely on very hot days. If you're used to running and exercising outdoors, change up your routine with some floorwork you can do indoors.

One way to keep cool is to shower, bathe, or sponge or spray cool water on yourself as frequently as you need to. A spray bottle with water kept in the fridge and used while sitting in front of a fan, even a small one, works as a quick and easy cooldown.