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updated: 7/21/2011 5:45 PM

Cooling centers empty despite high temperatures

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  • Dave Figgins, superintendent of recreation and parks, shows the unoccupied preschool room which is available as a cooling center at the Prospect Heights Park District Gary Morava Recreation Center.

       Dave Figgins, superintendent of recreation and parks, shows the unoccupied preschool room which is available as a cooling center at the Prospect Heights Park District Gary Morava Recreation Center.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Greg Rosenquist of Staff of Life Farms collapses in a chair as he take a break in the cooling center Thursday at the Libertyville Civic Center.Rosenquist spent the morning making popcorn at the Libertyville Farmers Market.

       Greg Rosenquist of Staff of Life Farms collapses in a chair as he take a break in the cooling center Thursday at the Libertyville Civic Center.Rosenquist spent the morning making popcorn at the Libertyville Farmers Market.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

 
 

The temperatures are high, but the usage of community cooling centers is low.

That's not necessarily a bad thing, as it could mean folks without an air-conditioned haven are taking refuge in other places, said Lake County Emergency Management Specialist Michael Jackson Sr. Those locales include shopping malls, movie theaters or bars.

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Jackson made a few phones calls on Thursday and found no one was utilizing cooling centers in locales including Antioch, Fremont Township, Highland Park and Wauconda.

"It's more about the support, to have sites available for those to use versus not having them at all," Jackson said.

Jackson said the cooling centers will continue to be open, even if no one is there to use them, just in case.

The story was the same elsewhere. The Salvation Army Community Center in Des Plaines had no takers Thursday when a photographer visited its cooling center.

And Hoffman Estates Park District Executive Director Dean Bostrom said no one was using the cooling center at the district's main offices. But Bostrom guessed more people than usual were hanging out in the seats near the district's ice rink.

"They can still come here and cool down," he said.

Thunderstorms earlier in the month caused power outages across the Northwest suburbs and in Lake County. However, despite the strain from air conditioners, ComEd has reported few heat-related outages, meaning fans and air conditioners work, which may be a reason for empty cooling centers, Bostrom said.

The Prospect Heights Park District's Gary Morava Recreation Center had a preschool room reserved for the public as a cooling center. That was also empty on Thursday.

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