Riverside County’s 56 cooling centers will open this week, starting with a kickoff event at the Palm Desert Aquatic Center Thursday.

The centers will open countywide on Friday, but officials will give locals a head start with Thursday’s opening event in Palm Desert, a free event from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. that will include refreshments, information booths, free swimming and water safety resources.

The cool centers will remain open for residents at no cost through Oct. 15, as temperatures warrant. County officials open the centers annually to help locals avoid the excessive heat, which officials said is particularly threatening for seniors and those with medical conditions.

“The cool centers have the potential to be a life-saving option for our residents,” Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel Perez said. “People do not have to suffer and risk the dangers of extreme heat.”

A list of cooling center locations can be found at www.capriverside.org.

“We are so happy to be able to provide our residents alternative places to cool off and get away from the extreme heat and high temperatures. The cool centers allow us to help our residents remain safe, cool and healthy in the summer months,” said Brenda Salas Freeman, executive director of the Community Action Partnership of Riverside County.

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