Riverside Co. residents beat the heat in cooling centers

The National Weather Service has extended an Excessive Heat Warning in the Inland Empire until Saturday, meaning many residents will have to figure out how to beat the heat for at least another five days.

Beatrice and Martine were just a few who came into a Riverside cooling center Monday to cool down. They live in their van. 

"I don’t like living like that," Beatrice said. "You can die."

Karla Lopez Del Rio oversees the 65 or so cooling centers for Riverside County. She says oftentimes people don’t even realize there are centers like this for people.

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About 20,000 people fled the heat went to the county's 75 cooling centers available in 2022. So far this year they’ve had about 2,500.

The temperature in Indio Monday got as high as 113 degrees.

To Del Rio, a cooling center is "a place that helps people save lives, honestly."

She says people can get heat stroke and they can die. That's what happened to Norma Estrada’s aunt, who died in Mexicali. She was in her 80s. Estrada said she couldn’t afford to pay her AC bill. She sweltered for several days in the heat until she died.

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Meanwhile, Del Rio said when people come into county centers, especially if they are disadvantaged, they can learn about resources that can help them. Del Rio said she's connected Estrada's family with the County’s Office on Aging to help them.

But, for Monday at least, they were able to beat the heat at the local cooling center.

A full list of cooling centers in Riverside County can be found at capriverside.org/cool-centers.