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Cooling centers opening up in McCracken County

BY CARRIE DILLARD cdillard@paducahsun.com

The McCracken County Emergency Management Office has designated three cooling centers to help residents beat the heat.

The McCracken County Courthouse at 300 S. Seventh St., the West McCracken Fire Department at 9340 Ogden Landing Road, and the McCracken County Emergency Management Complex at 3700 Coleman Road are open for citizens who need to cool off, said EM Director Jerome Mansfield.

Today and Sunday, 24 hours each day, a guard will be stationed inside the main entrance of the courthouse to allow access to the building over the weekend, he said.

Also throughout the weekend, Mansfield added, those in need of a cool place can call 911.

The 911 center will immediately dispatch an emergency responder to either of the other two buildings to open it and provide assistance.

"The very high temperatures we are now experiencing are in great contrast to the unusually moderate temperatures we have had in August so far.  We all need to watch out for each other and avoid heat injuries," Mansfield said.

The designated cooling centers will be open during regular business hours Monday and remain available if needed until the heat advisory is lifted Tuesday.

Pam Spencer, the city's public information officer, reminded citizens they are always welcome in public buildings like Paducah City Hall or the McCracken County Public Library during open hours.

Both the Paducah Police and the McCracken County Sheriff's Office are ready to assist with welfare checks related to heat.

"If you are checking on your neighbor and you feel there is cause for concern, please call us or the sheriff's office," said Robin Newberry, Paducah Police public information officer.

"There are a lot of people out there who depend on fans and do not have air conditioning."

The National Weather Service in Paducah has issued a heat advisory until 7 p.m. Tuesday. Meteorologists predict temperatures will reach 97 today and 98 Sunday, with heat indexes as high as 106.

Chief Larry Freeman of the Lone Oak Fire Department, like many other fire chiefs in the area, has advised his firefighters to not only be ready to assist the public with heat-related emergencies but also to  take care of themselves.

"They focus on the job at hand because everybody's depending on them," Freeman said, "but if you go down, you can't help anybody else."

Contact Carrie Dillard, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8657.

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