COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
People who need a break from the heat can choose from several cooling centers in Columbia.
The Activity & Recreation Center, Armory Sports and Community Center, Boone County Government Center, and the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services are just some of the centers open for those seeking to cool off in the coming days.
Temperatures are expected to rise well into the 90s with triple-digit heat indexes over the weekend.
These cooling centers are open to the public during each building’s normal business hours.
The public is allowed cool off in large public areas, including lobbies, restrooms and drinking fountains, as long as CDC guidelines for social distancing and the city's mask requirements are being followed.
A press release from the City of Columbia said, exposure to extreme heat can cause a variety of health problems, and people should take precautions.
"While everyone is at risk for heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk and should take special precautions, especially in these times of COVID -19."
Brian Higginbotham, the supervisor of operations and programming for the ARC, said the ARC has plenty of space for people seeking shelter from the heat.
"Because of COVID-19 we don't have a lot of our seating areas sitting out for that 6-foot social distancing aspect," he said. "But we have plenty of space in our lobby area and down the meeting room hallway."
The ARC has designated areas for people to stay when using the cooling area, Higginbotham said.
"These are our free areas, no admission," he said. "Any time someone goes past our front desk area that's when it becomes a membership."
Higginbotham said people are grateful for the option to cool off, even if it's just for a few minutes.
"Some will stay for a few minutes, some will be here for hours, it doesn't matter to us we are just glad we are available for people to come in and get out of the extreme heat," he said.