By Valerie Shelton | Reporter
The scorching heat of the Central Valley midsummer is upon us and while many are grateful for having had an extended spring, it’s unlikely mother nature will gift us an early autumn as well. Odds are the Valley will be experiencing triple digit days well into September and even October, per usual.
On those unbearable 100-plus days, the only real option for staying cool is staying indoors and for Clovis residents without air conditioning or for those trying to keep their electricity bills low there is only one official cooling center in town—Sierra Vista Mall.
While there are several cooling centers in Fresno, Natalie Khan, the marketing director for Sierra Vista said she believes the mall is the single site in Clovis where residents are encouraged to go when temperatures rise above 105 degrees. While residents can certainly choose to hang out at a nearby Starbucks or McDonald’s, using the air condition at those eateries usually involves spending money, plus there isn’t enough space for a sweaty crowd inside a coffee shop. Instead, Sierra Vista offers residents spaces to sit and relax where they don’t need to worry about spending a dime or about being cramped.
“To be a cooling center, a place has to provide a safe air-conditioned environment that those who choose to can come to and stay out of the heat during business hours,” Khan said. “Sierra Vista Mall has been a part of this program for several years. We offered our facility because it is a large central location that the community is familiar with.”
As a designated cooling center, Sierra Vista also has cold bottled water available at its center court to help residents stay hydrated. Free transportation to the mall cooling center is also provided via the Clovis Stageline and Clovis Roundup bus routes.
The cooling center is available when the National Weather Service predicts temperatures 105 or greater. Mall hours which are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Non-service animals are not allowed.
While the mall serves as a place for residents to stay cool, Khan says if any resident suspects they are suffering from a heat-related illness such as a heat stroke that they should seek medical care.
“Our staff is not comprised of nurses or physicians so if someone does feel they have heat stroke, they are encouraged to seek medical attention immediately,” Khan said.
The Clovis Fire Department recommends citizens take the following precautions during extreme heat:
- Slow down. Strenuous activities should be reduced, eliminated or rescheduled to the coolest time of the day. Individuals at risk should stay in the coolest available place, not necessarily at home.
- Dress for summer. Lightweight light-colored clothing reflects heat and sunlight and helps your body maintain normal temperatures.
- Eat right. Fruits and vegetables help the body maintain an appropriate balance. Avoid fatty foods that can cause the body to increase metabolic heat production which increases water loss.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water or other non-alcoholic fluids. Your body needs to keep cool and drinking even if you don’t feel thirsty. Persons who have epilepsy, heart, kidney or liver disease, are on fluid restrictive diets or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a physician before increasing their consumption of fluids.
- Check on at-risk family and friends. During extreme heat conditions, check twice a day on friends and family members who are elderly, medically fragile or have limited access to adequate cooling.
- Protect your pets. Bring pets inside during the hottest time of the day. Never leave pets in a locked car. Provide plenty of fresh water and shade for outdoor pets.