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Socorro cooling center seeks volunteers amid heat advisory

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Socorro cooling center seeks volunteers amid heat advisory

Jun 13, 2024 | 6:54 am ET
By Nash Jones, KUNM News
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Socorro cooling center seeks volunteers amid heat advisory
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A map of the National Weather Service HeatRisk Prototype index for Thursday, June 13, 2024. The red color represents ares with a "major" risk of heat-related health impacts, whereas the orange signifies a "moderate" risk. Yellow areas are only facing a "minor" risk. (Photo courtesy The National Weather Service)

Though summer doesn’t officially begin until next week, temperatures are already hitting the triple digits across parts of New Mexico.

The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for Thursday from 12:00 to 7:00 p.m. in the middle and lower Rio Grande Valley. A shelter in Socorro is seeking volunteers to help keep its cooling center open on these sweltering days.

Parts of Albuquerque and Los Alamos and all of Socorro face “major” health risks during the advisory, according to the Weather Service’s HeatRisk index. Much of the rest of the state is at “moderate” risk.

Srikanth Paladugu, chief of the Environmental Health Epidemiology Bureau at the New Mexico Department of Health, said some of the first signs of heat-related illness are a fast or weak pulse, nausea, vomiting or muscle cramps.

“Which can ultimately lead to dizziness, headache and fainting, resulting in death if not recognized in time,” he said.

The health department is urging people to stay cool inside and drink plenty of water. For those who have to be outside, Paladugu recommended wearing light clothing, finding shade, and taking breaks — including at cooling centers, if available.

In Socorro, where it is forecast to hit 105 degrees Thursday, the Puerto Seguro Safe Harbor drop-in day shelter is offering unhoused people somewhere to go. Board Chair Shay Kelley said it opens as a cooling center any day over 100 degrees.

“We provide bottled water, we put movies on TV,” she said. “Just kind of give people access to air conditioning and bathrooms, and try to beat the heat and stay out of the sun.”

Kelley said the cooling center is an unfunded service “born of necessity” at the shelter, which is usually open only three days per week. In the past, volunteers were able to keep the cooling center open from noon to sunset, but fewer have stepped up this year.

“We don’t really know how it’s going to go,” she said. “We’re hoping to be open the hottest parts of the day at minimum, but we’re just going to have to wait and see what we can put together.”

Kelley said the center is staffed up for this week, but is staring down more triple digit temperatures on Sunday and Monday.

Those interested in volunteering can email the shelter.

In Albuquerque, the following locations are available for people without shelter to cool down, according to the city:

  • American Indian Center, Monday – Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Friday 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  • Compassion Services Center, Monday – Sunday, 7:30 to 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 to 8 p.m.
  • The Rock, Tuesday – Friday 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
  • First Nations, Zuni Clinic, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
  • God’s Warehouse, Monday – Sunday, 3:00 to 6:00 p.m.
  • City Libraries: Main, International District, Unser, Erna Ferguson