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Advocates say 'Cool Zones' not accessible in all parts of San Diego County

Fans from a county of San Diego cool zone in this undated photo.
County of San Diego
Fans from a county of San Diego cool zone in this undated photo.

Extreme heat is expected at the coast and inland valleys of San Diego County this Labor Day weekend and into early next week.

The National Weather Service in San Diego has issued an excessive heat warning calling for triple-digit temperatures in some inland areas and the deserts through Tuesday.

To help people catch a break, San Diego County has set up cool zones where people can find refuge from the heat. Cool zones offer air conditioning and free Wi-Fi.


But browsing the interactive map, the cool zones start to dissipate in the North and East County.

Valley Center — known for being a hotter area — only has one cool zone set up. Escondido has three cool zones, but two of them will be closed on Sunday and Monday.

A man who told KPBS he passes out water to the homeless said the problem isn't just a lack of cooling centers but a lack of information about them for people on the street.

“There was people already experiencing heat strokes that had no idea a heat wave was coming," said the man who didn't want to be identified. "They didn't know there was cooling stations. They didn't know where to go to."

He said he and a group of friends took it upon themselves to distribute water to people experiencing homelessness in Escondido to help with the heat.


“After we handed out water, we went back later that day and passed out flyers to let them know where the cool zones were. They were very thankful," he said. "I think it's an epic failure on the part of Escondido to not even inform people living outside that there is cool zones or where to find them. If a small group of friends can drive around and do it, the city of Escondido, with all of its resources, can do it.”

Jeff Murdock, the emergency preparedness manager for the city of Escondido, said information about the cool zones was distributed in various ways.

“We put a lot of information on how to be safe during this heat event," he said. "We put information out on our Facebook and other social media pages. We also publish an activity report people have access to on our website,"

Murdock added that Escondido police also do outreach informing people living on the streets about ways to escape the heat.

But the man giving out water questions how welcoming these places are to homeless individuals and raised other concerns.

“Part of the problem too is these cool zones they aren't open on Sunday, the hottest day this week," he said. "And people living outside, they don't have access to the internet or to look up these resources. Seems all around like a complete failure this week.”

A San Diego County spokesperson sent KPBS a statement saying, "Cool Zone participation is voluntary. Some sites, such as County Libraries, are under County jurisdiction and therefore the County has the ability to provide staffing outside of typical hours, such as on Sundays.”

Some Cool Zone locations across the county will stay open Saturday, Sunday and Monday from noon to 5 p.m. Those locations are:

  • Balboa Park Activity Center, 2145 Park Blvd.;
  • City Heights Recreation Center, 4380 Landis St.;
  • Kearny Mesa Recreation Center, 3170 Armstrong St.;
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center, 6401 Skyline Drive;
  • Montgomery Waller Recreation Center, 3020 Coronado Ave.;
  • Mountain View Community Center, 641 S. Boundary St.;
  • Nobel Recreation Center, 8810 Judicial Drive;
  • Pacific Beach Recreation Center, 1405 Diamond St.;
  • Rancho Bernardo Recreation Center, 18448 West Bernardo Drive; and
  • San Carlos Recreation Center, 6445 Lake Badin Ave.

Additionally, the Neil Morgan Auditorium at the San Diego Central Library, located at 330 Park Blvd., will be open on Sunday and Monday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Library services will not be offered on those days. The Central Library will be open Saturday for regular hours.

For an updated list of locations in the city of San Diego, visit

Countywide, on Monday, three libraries will open Cool Zone community rooms from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The three library branches are:

  • Ramona, 1275 Main St.;
  • Borrego Springs, 2580 Country Club Road; and
  • Valley Center: 29200 Cole Grade Road, Valley Center.

Regular library services will not be available.

The county is also partnering with 211 and providing no-cost transportation to cool zone locations.

Holiday weekends are traditionally a busy time in emergency departments, and dangerous heat conditions can add to the volume of people visiting the ED and strain hospital staff and resources.

``Check weather forecasts, stay hydrated, limit time outdoors, check on elderly or disabled neighbors, and visit Cool Zones,'' said Dr. Wilma J. Wooten, county public health officer. ``Signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, clammy skin and muscle cramps. Heatstroke symptoms include fever, flushed or red skin, lack of sweating, trouble breathing and disorientation or confusion.''

For more information about the signs and symptoms of emergencies like heat exhaustion and heatstroke, go to the county Health and Human Services Agency Extreme Heat webpage.

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