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Spokane-area shelters prepare for weekend of dangerous heat

With triple digits on the way, places to cool down are going to be critical.

SPOKANE, Wash. — With consecutive days of triple-digit temperatures expected in Spokane this week, local shelters are preparing to help keep people cool.

The heat could be especially dangerous to people experiencing homelessness, so the city's main shelter wants to make sure folks are aware they have expanded capacity during the daytime.

Under contract, the Cannon Street shelter maxes out at 72 people overnight right now, but the Guardians Foundation that runs the center says they could reasonably hold 80 or 90 temporary guests during the heat of the day.

"We would highly recommend that those that find themselves out on the street still come on into the shelter, get cool, charge up your electronics, grab a meal, take a shower, relax and get out of the heat," said Mike Fagan with the Guardians. "And I do believe that that's going to be a unified message with all shelters, as we head off into the weekend. If you're not accustomed to, you don't normally like to stay in the shelter, at least this weekend seriously consider going to a shelter to remain cool."

Fagan says the Cannon facility has a new air conditioning system that includes filtration for in the case of wildfire smoke. They've also added some shade and picnic benches outdoors.

Other shelters have capacity too, though drop-ins might be trickier at those locations right now.

"If you're at Catholic Charities, or you're at the Way Out shelter, we're encouraging people to check in the night before so that guarantees day space for the next day," said City of Spokane spokesman Brian Coddington. "So plan ahead is I guess the message to those who might need shelter."

The city's message is the same to those looking to cool off in other ways. The splash pads just opened, so too did the aquatics centers, but traditional cool-off zones like malls and movie theaters are still operating with some COVID restrictions, so you may want to do some research before heading to your favorite air conditioned building.

Another resource of course are libraries. The county library district says they expect more people will be coming in as things heat up.

"We are air conditioned. All of our facilities are nice and cool, and we've always invited people in during these hot times to spend an hour, enjoy a magazine, flip through it, check out a book, or take advantage of any of the other things that the library has to offer," said Spokane County Library District spokeswoman Jane Baker.

Coddington says there is currently sufficient capacity throughout the city's shelter system, and they'll be monitoring that and the weather forecasts closely.

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