With this weekend set to be a scorcher — with high temperatures and humidity — local emergency personnel are calling attention to several free or low-cost places in the area to cool off.
In Keene, the public library at 60 Winter St. is open Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (and today, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.), and the public pools at Wheelock and Robin Hood parks are open Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5:45 p.m. (Pool hours today, like other weekdays, are 1 to 6:45 p.m.)
Pool rates for city residents are $2 for children ages six to 17 and $4 for people 18 and up, with $2 tacked on to the rates for non-residents in these age groups. Kids ages one to five can use the pools for free regardless of whether they live in Keene.
Also in the city, the air-conditioned lobby of the Keene Family YMCA at 200 Summit Road will be open to members and non-members alike, and non-members can also pay a guest fee to use the entire facility. The Y is open weekdays from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Y has also announced an open-doors policy for community members during power outages. In natural disasters, storms or other regional emergencies, people left in the dark are invited to come to the Summit Road facility to use its Internet, showers and bathrooms and to access its heat or air conditioning — whether they belong to the Y or not, the nonprofit organization said in a news release.
According to Marketing Director Renee Woliver, new CEO Daniel Smith offered this at his former YMCA in Michigan, and wanted to do the same in the Monadnock Region.
On Saturday and Sunday, the North Walpole Fire & Rescue Department at 70 Church St. will be open to the public as a cooling station — complete with air conditioning and cold water — from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
And in Brattleboro, the AC will be on in the lobby of the central fire station at 103 Elliot St.; the West Brattleboro station (station 2) at 16 South St.; the lobby of the police station at 62 Black Mountain Road and at Brooks Memorial Library at 224 Main St. (Library hours in the coming days are Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
A cooling station will be opened in town if needed, Brattleboro Fire Chief Michael Bucossi said in a Facebook post Thursday. For non-emergency questions or assistance — including requests for welfare checks or for help putting in air-conditioning units — people can call the department at 802-254-4831.
Both Bucossi and Kurt Blomquist, Keene’s emergency management director, urge people to stay hydrated, wear light clothing and check in on others — particularly seniors and, Blomquist noted in a news release, people of limited mobility. In an emergency, call 911.
Pets shouldn’t be left in cars — or any unventilated area for that matter, Blomquist said, and like people, should be kept hydrated. Bucossi advised people to be aware of heat cramps, exhaustion and stroke.
Both also encouraged people to limit their time in the heat (and especially in areas without shade, fans or air-conditioning). And avoid strenuous activity, particularly during the hottest times of the day, Bucossi wrote.