City opens cooling centers in response to heatwave and poor air quality

City officials activated cooling centers in San Francisco as a plume of wildfire smoke and extreme heat engulfed The City Friday morning. Air-conditioned libraries and museums, and public pools will welcome residents seeking relief on Friday and Saturday.

With temperatures peaking in the low 90s and “Spare the Air” alerts issued for Friday and Saturday, The Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the San Francisco Department of Public Health warned residents to be cautious and take advantage of The City’s resources.

They said the combination of poor air quality and intense heat levels will have unhealthy effects on all residents, and may be significantly damaging to sensitive groups.

“Historically, San Francisco does not have high temperatures,” said city Health Officer Tomas Aragon. “As human beings, we’re not acclimated, and so that’s one of the reasons why we’re so vulnerable.”

Aragon encouraged all residents living in residences without air conditioning to let in the morning breeze and then shut the shades to block out the afternoon heat. In San Francisco, residents can also seek out clean and cool air by visiting The City’s local cooling centers, indoor shopping malls or air-conditioned buildings.

Heat safety is The City’s top priority right now, said Air Quality Management District spokesperson Kristine Roselius.

While heat related illnesses have proven not be common during fall heatwaves, Roselius said the heat can exacerbate underlying respiratory and cardiovascular conditions and threaten sensitive groups. She advised caution to children, elder persons and individuals taking regular medication which may prevent their bodies from adjusting to the heat.

Air Quality Management District Meteorologist Jarrett Claiborne said Friday’s weather conditions were prompted by northwestern winds pushing smoke and heat towards the Bay.

However, temperatures are expected to improve significantly between Saturday evening and Sunday morning as offshore winds cool the city down and drive smoke southward.

For real-time updates on San Francisco’s weather conditions, visit The National Weather Service.

To learn more about how to help yourself and others through a heat wave, contact the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

cghsiolfi@sfexaminer.com

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