Arizona’s Heat Relief Network
The Maricopa Association of Governments’ (MAG) role is to coordinate the interactive mapping of the Heat Relief Network, a network of partners providing hydration stations, refuge locations and water donation sites throughout the Valley, with the goal of preventing heat-related illnesses and deaths among vulnerable populations.
Cleo Warner is the Human Services Planner for MAG. She joined Arizona Horizon to discuss the program, which started in 2005.
“Hydration stations are going to be something that offers indoor or outdoor hydration to people, so think of a tech handing out water bottles. The cooling centers are in indoor locations that offers AC and hydration, and our newest sites that we offer this year are the respite centers that are indoors that offer AC and hydration and also allow people to have uninterrupted rest for the hours of operation at the site. We know that is something that the community really needs so we are happy to offer that this year,” Warner said.
The map and directories are updated as new partners sign up throughout the summer season, which runs May 1 to Sept. 30. MAG does not operate or staff any of the centers. The work is done on a voluntary basis; partners do not receive any funding for the work. MAG does not have numbers regarding how many people are served and does not have a way of tracking usage across the network.
Organizations participating in the program include city libraries, local churches and local small businesses.
“Right now, we are 235 locations, and that spans 57 different organizations in our Valley,” Warner said.
Warner said the network relies on word of mouth to spread the word about available services if someone doesn’t have access to the internet to find a location.
“Every year, we see an increase in both our high temperatures and our low temperatures, and we know that this is a resource that the community really needs,” Warner said.