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As temperatures rise, Boise designates places where folks can stay cool

A flyer indicating the cooling sites across Boise is pinned to a board
Julie Luchetta
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Boise State Public Radio
Boise's designated cooling sites.

Fifty-five-year old Sly Jones has been houseless for several years.

“Last year was the first time I ever spent a real hot summer,” he said sitting under misters at Corpus Christi House, a downtown day shelter designated as one of the city's cooling sites.

Like many others looking to escape the heat in Boise, Jones' strategy has been to stay by the river.

“You got the nice big trees over there,” he said. “And when it's hot, you could actually find some comfort over in that park.”

Temperatures in the Treasure Valley are set to see highs of 100 and above this month.

The city of Boise has designated cooling sites for those who may not have anywhere else to go during these hot summer days.

Boise cooling stations 2022 Corpus.jpg
Julie Luchetta
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Destiny Lee works at Corpus Christi where anyone can stay for a few hours to shower, eat, rest and cool down under misters. Those with nowhere to go during the day are at high risk of sunburns and dehydration, she said.

“We do have sunscreens,” Lee said, “we have aloe veras for those that are already sunburnt. We have some liquid P-H to help take the sting away from the burns.”

They also sometimes treat rashes from people getting irritated by the water in the river, she said.

But staying safe from extreme temperatures is challenging year round. In the winter, Lee also works at warming sites. The challenges are different, but staving off heat in the summer is just as important as keeping warm in the winter, she noted.

“When they're cold and when they're hot,” she said, “there's still a lot that you have to do.”

In addition to treating sunburns and heat rashes, Corpus Christi helps people stay hydrated and prevent heat exhaustion, which can be fatal.

“We go along the river,” she explained, “and even though people are swimming and they're near the water, if you know that they're from the shelter, they're probably still not staying hydrated.”

With summers getting hotter due to climate change, these services may have to be available for longer periods at a time. Summer of 2021 saw the highest recorded temperatures in Idaho’s history.

People experiencing homelessness in Boise have some options to combat the heat.

Downtown YMCA, Boise City Hall and the public library are all designated cooling sites that offer air conditioning, water and a place to escape the sun during the day.

These spaces are open to the public year round. Cathedral of the Rockies, Our Path Home and Corpus Christi also offer free meals.

As the Canyon County reporter, I cover the Latina/o/x communities and agricultural hub of the Treasure Valley. I’m super invested in local journalism and social equity, and very grateful to be working in Idaho.