Sacramento City Hall

What are ‘cool-air spaces’ and how are they different from ‘cooling centers’?

While triple-digit days aren’t unusual in Sacramento, they can become uncomfortable or dangerous for some people, especially when the extreme heat persists over an extended period of time.

The City uses the Sacramento region’s Severe Weather Guidance Plan to decide when to open 24-hour cooling centers. Created by County health officials, homeless advocates, and the National Weather Service, the plan outlines the specific temperatures and time periods required to open the centers.

However, Sacramento often experiences days that are hot but not hot enough to trigger opening the 24-hour cooling centers. On these days, the City recommends that residents visit the City’s cool-air spaces.

A cool-air space is any community center, library or air-conditioned space that is free and open to anyone. They typically are open during normal business hours, which coincide with the hottest temperatures of the day. (Many community centers in Sacramento are open until 9 p.m.)

Other cities in the region also offer cool-air spaces, and they often call them “cooling centers,” even through they do not operate 24-hours a day like the City’s cooling centers.

“It’s really just an issue of semantics,” said Daniel Bowers, Director of Emergency Management for the City of Sacramento, of the difference between cooling centers and cool-air spaces. “The City has facilities that are open 7-days a week during the day where people can take refuge from the heat until it cools off in the evening.”