Senior centers double as 'cooling centers' for hot Pittsburgh days
By Bob Bauder
Published: Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
This summer hasn't been an especially hot one in Pittsburgh, but the mayor's office isn't taking any chances.
Pittsburgh opens four “cooling centers” around the city every time the National Weather Service predicts the heat index — a measure of how hot it feels outside — will rise to 90 degrees or more.
The cooling centers are senior centers in Greenfield, Homewood, Sheridan and the South Side that are always open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. But when it's hot, the city invites seniors to stick around until 7 p.m. Refreshments are served.
“It's great that we have it to get out of the heat,” said Bill Matscherz, 70, of Troy Hill. “Plus, we save some money on food.”
Since May 30, the city has opened the cooling centers 21 times, including Saturday.
City parks official Dick Skrinjar said 1,191 people visited or remained in the senior centers between 4 and 7 p.m. during the first 18 times.
Skrinjar said it's about being safe rather than sorry.
He noted that a 1995 heat wave in Chicago killed about 750 people, mostly elderly and poor, over five days. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded 7,415 heat-related deaths from 1999 to 2010, the most recent data available.
“That's not a risk anyone wants to take in Pittsburgh,” Skrinjar said. Temperatures here were slightly above average — less than a degree — in June and July.
They are 1.2 degrees cooler this month.
Matscherz heads to the Greenfield center to play mah-jongg with friends when it gets hot.
“This is the only place in the city that plays mah-jongg,” Matscherz said.
Lottery proceeds pay to keep the senior centers open longer. Skrinjar estimated the bill at $3,300 for the 21 dates.
Lily Yee, 67, of Hazelwood, one of the mah-jongg players, said she's been coming to the Greenfield center for 10 years.
“We're like a cooling island,” she said, laughing. “We are mah-jongg-aholics, not alcoholics.”
Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Hill District nonprofit’s finances are taking another dive
- Boat owners prepare for winterization
- Pittsburgh diocese extends peace offering to Catholics, non-Catholics
- Newsmaker: Matthew Boice
- Food stamp fraud, bloat overshadow debate on farm bill
- Feds to oversee PHEAA, other student loan contractors
- Late Thanksgiving diminishes jingle of Salvation Army kettles
- Newsmaker: Judith Tobe
- Money being raised to furnish Uniontown Marine’s home