While many people have turned to cooling centers in this heat wave, Maricopa County Department of Public Health (MCDPH) wants to understand what it would take to get even more people to use them when needed. To do this, MCDPH is conducting a community survey to understand how to better connect Maricopa County residents with these life-saving resources.
“We know that cooling centers can provide air conditioning, water, and access to necessary services,” said Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, medical director for MCDPH. “By learning more about how people find out about these resources and get to them—and what keeps them from using them—we can work with our partners to more effectively address residents’ needs and promote these centers.”
Maricopa County residents can take the survey online in English and Spanish through August 31. Individuals who would like to take the survey by phone can call the MCDPH CARES Team at (602) 506-6767.
MCDPH is part of the Heat Relief Network, which brings community agencies together to provide and promote resources for people to stay hydrated and cool. This network, coordinated by the Maricopa Association of Governments, includes dozens of locations across the county where people can cool off, get a drink, or donate water.
MCDPH has been working with the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for over a year to develop and implement this survey. Given the increased promotion and usage over the last two months, this is an ideal time to evaluate how those centers are meeting residents’ needs and how promotion of them can be improved.
“We know that heat is a public health issue. In 2022, 425 individuals sadly passed away from heat-associated illnesses,” said Dr. Sunenshine. “The tragedy is that every one of these deaths is preventable, and we need the community’s help to prevent these unnecessary deaths.”
In addition to this public survey, MCDPH is conducting a parallel survey within cooling centers to find out how cooling center visitors find out about them, get to them, and what would make it easier to use them. This will supplement the public survey data with information on what is already working to bring people to cooling centers and what we can do to improve them.
Visit heataz.org or caloraz.org to find a cooling center near you, heat safety tips, and data on heat-associated illnesses in Maricopa County.