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Greenwood facility keeping seniors safe during Seattle-area heat wave

Greenwood Senior Center keeping its doors open later as a cooling center for seniors during heat wave.

SEATTLE — Tuesday marked one of the hottest days of the year, and people who are at high risk for heat-related illnesses, like seniors, are being told to stay cool the rest of the week.

On Tuesdays, Ronni Wolfe typically can be found playing Mahjong at Greenwood Senior Center, but this week she's there cooling off.

“Since my group was over I wanted to sit here for a while before I walked up a couple of blocks,” said Wolfe.

Ronni anticipates things to only heat up inside her home this week. 

“As it goes on my place gets increasingly hot because I only have south facing windows. This is really a godsend for local seniors,” Wolfe said.

This week, Greenwood Senior Center is a refuge from the heat, opening up as a cooling center for seniors.

“By coming here they can cool off, we have popsicles and cool water if needed and a refrigerator if they want to bring their lunch they can bring their lunch and stay in a cool place,” said Cecily Kaplan, Senior Program Director of the Phinney Neighborhood Association.

Greenwood Senior Center is keeping its doors open until 7 p.m., and until 6 on Friday, later than other centers.

The center found it was essential to stay open later after last year’s unprecedented heat wave.

“We were closing at our normal hours, just about the time it was getting the most hot, so we made an effort to stay open as late as week could,” said Kaplan.

From June 26th to August 30th of last year, the Washington Department of Health reported 157 people died from the heat. 68% of those were people ages 65 and up.

“It was really scary for a while for everyone,” said Kaplan.

While things have been a little quiet on Tuesday, the center expects the next few days to be busy.

“It’s been a few people in, a few people out, but I think as the week goes on it's going to be even more needed,” said Kaplan.

Greenwood Senior Center also allows people to bring their dogs, but asks they are small and well-behaved.

For the future, the center is working on being able to stay open on the weekends during heat events.

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