The Board of Supervisors Tuesday authorized the Riverside University Health System to accept and utilize a $20,000 grant to supply cool and warm centers in the Coachella Valley and eastern Riverside County with resources to help seniors and others who seek shelter in extreme conditions, when they have nowhere else to go.

The nonprofit Regional Access Project Foundation, based in Palm Desert, awarded RUHS the funds under a program administered by the Riverside-based Community Action Partnership.

The program enables the county to partner with senior centers, houses of worship, homeless shelters and other facilities to offer county residents whose abodes may not have adequate air conditioning or heating units a place to escape sweltering or frigid conditions.

The county’s public health officer, Dr. Cameron Kaiser, told the board that the July heat waves demonstrate how critical alternative arrangements can be, noting the seven heat-related deaths recorded countywide between July 7 and 17.

All but one of the victims was over 75 years old.

“The elderly and the very young are particularly vulnerable to heat, and those with medical issues even more so,” Kaiser said, acknowledging that the victims had underlying health problems. “By taking just a few minutes to perform a `senior check’ on our friends and family, we can make sure our seniors are safe when temperatures peak.”

The RAP Foundation grant will enable 19 designated cool and warms centers to purchase snacks, bottled water, games and other necessities that can be stocked on-site.

In the 2017-18 fiscal year, more than 20,000 residents temporarily sheltered in the county’s 56 cool and warms centers, which generally only operate during daylight hours.

Cool centers open when temperatures are forecast to climb into the triple digits, and warm centers open when the mercury is expected to remain below 40 degrees. Places designated as cool centers also often serve as warm centers, and vice versa.

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