DC and Montgomery County open cooling centers for heat wave

A man sits under the shade of an umbrella near the National World War II Memorial and Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC, August 29, 2018, as a heat wave continues in the area, with the National Weather Service issuing a heat adv

Washington D.C. and Montgomery County, Maryland opened cooling centers on Sunday in response to the dangerous heat expected for our region – and masks are required.

In Montgomery County, Maryland, the cooling centers will be open from noon to 6 p.m. starting Sunday at these four locations:

  • Former Silver Spring Library Redevelopment, 8901 Colesville Road, Silver Spring
  • Bauer Drive Community Recreation Center, 14625 Bauer Dr, Rockville,
  • East County Community Recreation Center, 3310 Gateshead Manor Way, Silver Spring
  • Montgomery County Animal Services (Community Room), 7315 Muncaster Mill Road, Derwood

Twelve locations are expected to be open on Monday. Here’s the full list.

“The conditions that we’re looking at particularly later in the day today and through much of the afternoon tomorrow, are life-threatening. One hundred five degrees heat index is where medical providers will tell you that simply being outside for extended periods of time in those conditions can cause significant medical issues,” said Montgomery County Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security Director, Earl Stoddard.

RELATED: It'll feel as hot as 108 today with heat advisory in effect until 8 p.m.

Stoddard tells FOX 5 DC many of the facilities that normally served as cooling centers during extreme heat days would normally be open right now.

However, due to COVID19 pandemic, many of those locations were actually closed.

“And so we didn’t have a normal portfolio of locations available to us that we could just open that we could direct people too. And so we actually had to open them, number one, and number two, we had to provide protections. So physical distancing. Face coverings. Getting them in place over the course of a couple day period is the challenge,” Stoddard added.

A cooling center like the East County Community Recreational Center usually fits hundreds of people, but in an effort to ensure social distancing, Stoddard says each facility will only take around 50 people. He doesn’t expect the facilities to actually see that many.

Still, to help make-up for lower capacity, Stoddard says free Ride on Buses are also being offered as a cooling locations. The county will be stacking the busses with bottles of water as well.

In Washington D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser also activated the District’s Heat Emergency Plan, opening around 18 shelters, recreational centers and public schools for Cooling Center locations, according to the District’s cooling location map. DC’s Cooling Centers will be open from around 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. If anyone needs information or transportation to a cooling site, you can call the District’s 311 service.

Both jurisdictions’ Heat Emergencies will be in place until at least Tuesday.

Officials are reminding everyone to check-in on elderly neighbors or family members. Do not leave kids or pets in cars. Also remember DC area jurisdictions do enforce animal anti-cruelty regulations during weather emergencies.  

Leaving your pet unattended outdoors is prohibited during this weather emergency in Montgomery County.