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Public Safety

El Cajon Seniors Flock To 'Cool Zone' In Sweltering Heat Wave

With temperatures soaring to triple digits outside, dozens of seniors enjoy the air conditioned dining hall of the Salvation Army Senior Nutrition Center in El Cajon, Oct. 9, 2015.
Roland Lizarondo
With temperatures soaring to triple digits outside, dozens of seniors enjoy the air conditioned dining hall of the Salvation Army Senior Nutrition Center in El Cajon, Oct. 9, 2015.
El Cajon Seniors Flock To 'Cool Zone' In Sweltering Heat Wave

San Diegans are in the grips of yet another heat wave. In El Cajon, one of the hottest places in the county, temperatures on Friday hit triple digits before noon.

“You can tell when it’s 100 degrees or more,” said Wallie Robinson, an El Cajon resident. “It’s hard to breathe.”

Robinson was among the dozens of seniors who escaped the heat by hunkering down at the Salvation Army Senior Nutrition Center — one of 100 designated “cool zones” located across the county, where people are directed to stay safe.

“Is everyone staying cool?” asked Lisa Decrescente to the enthusiastic group of seniors who erupted in applause in the dining hall, where the temperature was set at 67 degrees. “Drink a lot of water, right? Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables.”

Decrescente, the site manager of the center, said lunch is served Monday through Friday at 11:30 a.m. to seniors over the age of 60. The meal is followed by activities and fellowship.

Many seniors who come to the center don’t have air conditioning at home, including Frederick Burbank.

“It’s miserable,” Burbank said. “It’s nice in here though. I come down here, have a nice lunch and get to feel cool for a little while and play bingo afterwards.”

This latest heat wave, the third in three weeks, follows the hottest summer on record in San Diego County.

For Donna Bonnin, the center is more than just a place to cool down. She enjoys meeting new people.

“I like the camaraderie, the friendship,” Bonnin said.

The scorching temperatures aren’t expected to ease until Monday. Until then, Wallie Robinson knows just where he’ll be.

“The more you can spend inside — a place like this — the better it is,” he said.

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