Tampa opens free cooling centers as heatwave continues

If you need a place to beat the heat, the city of Tampa has opened cooling centers at Parks and Recreation centers due to excessive heat warnings and heat advisories that have impacted the Bay Area this week.

The cooling centers will be staffed by city of Tampa employees, AmeriCorps service members, and Red Cross volunteers.

"This is our first year that I know of that we're doing this," said Lisa Bryant, a supervisor for Tampa's Parks and Recreations Department. "You're out there maybe 10 minutes, and you're already like, when am I going back inside? It's so hot."

The centers opened on Thursday and will be open Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Cooling centers are located at: 

  • David M Barksdale Active Older Adult Center at Macfarlane Park, 1801 N Lincoln Ave., Tampa, FL 33607
  • Cuscaden Park, 2900 N 15th St ., Tampa, FL 33605
  • Cordelia B Hunt Community Center at Al Lopez Park, 4810 N Himes Ave., Tampa, FL 33614

Volunteers with the American Red Cross are helping keep the cooling centers stocked with snacks and water.

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Bryant said having a place to cool down is crucial for homeless people and for folks who are just out and about during the hottest parts of the day.

"Just the community as a whole, if you're out, especially these are some of our bigger parks and people that are enjoying our parks, walking around, exercising," Bryant said, referring to people who might want to take advantage of the cooling centers.

"I think it'll save lives, to be honest with you," added Leann Kennedy, who lives near Cuscaden Park. "There are people all over this neighborhood that are good people. They just are down on their work or whatever, and they need the hydration."

There is no cost to use the centers and anyone can go inside. Light snacks and water will also be available.

City leaders also launched the HEATSAFE text alert system to keep the community informed and safe from the impacts of extreme heat.

The service is free and will include heat advisories, cooling center openings, tips to stay cool, and other heat-related information such as utility bill assistance. 

To sign up, text HEATSAFE to 888-777.