With the recent record-setting temperatures across the region, senior centers throughout the city of Pittsburgh have extended their hours of operation to provide a respite to elderly residents.
Pittsburgh senior citizens 60 years of age or older can find relief from the heat in one of the Cooling Centers when temperatures reach a "real feel" of 90 degrees or warmer.
Since the beginning of the month, record daily high temperatures have been set four times: 94° F on July 1; 97° F on July 4; 98° F on July 6; and 99° F on July 7.
Joanna Doven, Press Secretary to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, said the centers are as popular as ever among the older residents. "The thing that we realize is seniors need this service and they're using it. We have seen the attendance at these facilities double during heat waves," Doven said.
Despite remaining open longer in the evenings, Doven said the extra costs will not significantly affect the budget. "There are minor increases in the fact that employees at senior centers are working a few hours longer in the day, but that's money we can absorb, and that's money well spent," Doven said.
She added staff members at the facilities have offered nothing but positive feedback on adding the extra hours. "They wouldn't be doing the job they're doing if they did not love seniors, and spending a few extra hours a day with them is something that they enjoy," Doven said.
In addition to the air conditioning, refreshments and games are provided.
The four Cooling Centers that have been offering additional hours are the Greenfield Healthy Active Living Center, the Homewood Healthy Active Living Center, the Market House Healthy Active Living Center in South Side, and the Sheraden Healthy Active Living Center.
According to the National Weather Service the longest heat wave in Pittsburgh history was 13 consecutive days of 90° F or higher, July 4-16 in 1988.