In Palm Desert, Calif. today, temperatures are predicted to hit 115 degrees and Kevin Towner is expecting huge crowds at the local Cool Center he helps run.
“The Cool Center allows folks to not run their air conditioners at home and this way they don’t incur the high cost of energy bills,” said Towner, development director at the Joslyn Cove Community Senior Center. “Lots of folks here are low income.”
This is the second year the Cool Center in Palm Desert has opened with the support of Southern California Edison (SCE). In addition to staying out of the heat, residents will be provided snacks and water and an opportunity to take part in some of the center’s activities like bingo and bridge.
“It’s hot, but it’s always over 100 in the summer here,” said Jennifer Cusack, SCE Local Public Affairs region manager whose service area includes Palm Desert. “The heat is definitely a concern because it’s the first heat wave of the year and it puts a strain on the system.”
Cusack speaks at various community events throughout the year talking about emergency preparedness, especially about outages during the hot summer months. She likes to tell folks to practice the three Ps: plan, prepare and practice. In addition to keeping lots of bottled water stocked up, she recommends having flashlights with working batteries and using wet towels to help keep body temperatures low.
“We at SCE are always concerned about our customers. Safety is our number one priority,” said Cusack. “We want to educate our customers on how to be prepared and stay safe.”
In Cusack’s region, residents are very concerned about planned outages. She often explains that planned outages are when infrastructure is repaired and improved. These activities are critical to the reliability of the grid and they help avoid a more extended outage that could impact a larger area. Planned outages are reviewed with weather impacts in mind and SCE will postpone planned outages, as long as they are not critical to grid reliability and safety.
“Some planned outages are identified as critical to complete and often we are changing equipment that could fail under the pressure of a sustained heat wave,” she said. “We try not to do the work during these times, but if a small outage will mean that the larger region can be safer in the end, we need to do that work.”
The National Weather Service has issued a high heat warning that is expected to last till Tuesday throughout the Southland.
Towner asks that neighbors and family members check on the elderly during this current heat wave and encourage them to head to their local Cool Center.
"Cool Centers save lives," he said.
In addition to the Palm Desert Cool Center, SCE is partnering with Kern, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties with centers in seven different cities. The centers are open from 10 a.m. till 5 p.m. and will be available to the public from July 1 till Oct. 15.
For more information about SCE-affiliated Cool Centers, go to: SCE.com/coolcenter. To find additional Cool Centers in your city or district, call 211 for more information.