County of Marin - News Releases - Cooling Center

For Immediate Release
August 15, 2020

Marin Opens Cooling Center During Heatwave

Public Health officials warn of potential heat illnesses; offer tips to stay cool

San Rafael, CA — An unexpected heat wave is bringing unusually high temperatures to Marin County. Those more vulnerable to hot conditions now have an option to escape the heat.

A woman with sunglasses on looks up toward the sky on what appears to be a very hot dayMarin HHS reminds people to take the necessary precautions to avoid heat-related illnesses.

Marin Public Health is opening a cooling center Saturday, August 15, through Tuesday, August 18, from 3-7 p.m., at the Marin Center Exhibit Hall (10 Avenue of the Flags). Anyone who cannot safely stay cool at home can seek temporary relief at the air-conditioned San Rafael site.

Public Health is implementing strict safety protocols at the cooling center to prevent transmission of the SARS COV-2 virus and subsequent development of COVID-19 disease among both visitors and staff. Measures include temperature checks, use of masks or face coverings, physical distancing between individuals or household units, staff dedicated to disinfecting restrooms and commonly touched surfaces, and lowering capacity limits of the building. Individuals showing symptoms of COVID-19 (i.e., fever, cough, shortness of breath), should contact their medical provider for alternative options.

The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a heat advisory for Marin County, in effect from 10 a.m. through 9 p.m. Saturday, August 15. In addition, NWS is forecasting a long duration heat wave for the interior regions of the Bay Area though at least Tuesday of next week. Daily afternoon highs are expected to reach the upper 90s with minimal overnight relief. Due to the long duration of the heat wave, accumulating heat stress could impact people across the region, especially older adults and those sensitive to heat. While most coastal communities are expected to have cooler conditions, those sheltered from the wind could experience record temperatures for the next several days.

Marin County Health and Human Services (HHS) encourages everyone to be on the lookout for heat-related illnesses, either in themselves or their families and friends. Exposure to extreme heat can cause a variety of health problems, including heat stroke and death.

Heat Cramps

Heat cramps occur as muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion. Although heat cramps are the least severe, they are often the first signal that the body is having trouble with the heat. Symptoms include painful cramps, especially in the legs, and flushed, moist skin. Treatment involves moving to a cool place to rest. Remove excess clothing and place cool cloths on skin and fan skin.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is a serious illness characterized by a body temperature greater than 105 degrees. Symptoms may include dry red skin, convulsions, disorientation, delirium and coma. Onset of heat stroke can be rapid; serious symptoms can occur within minutes. Treatment involves the rapid lowering of body temperature by taking a cool bath or applying wet towels to the body. Keep victims of heat stroke in a cool area and call 911 immediately.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat stroke that may develop due to a combination of several days with high temperatures and dehydration in an individual.  Signs of heat exhaustion include extreme weakness, muscle cramps, nausea or headache. Victims may also vomit or faint. Heat exhaustion is treated with plenty of liquids and rest in a cool, shaded area.  

Consider the following tips and suggestions to avoid heat-related illness, including:

  • Stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun
  • Drink plenty of fluids and replace salts and minerals in your body. A sports beverage can help replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat.
  • Alcohol contributes to dehydration. Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.
  • Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible. Protect face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat. When outdoors, use sunscreen with a SPF of at least 15.
  • Stay on the lowest floor, out of the sunshine if air conditioning is not available. 
  • Take cool baths or showers.
  • Place a damp towel around your shoulders to reduce body heat.
  • Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles. 
  • Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat, and take frequent breaks.
  • Eat well-balanced, light, and regular meals. Hot, heavy meals add heat to your body. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician. 
  • Closely monitor a local radio station or TV station for the latest information. 
  • To receive emergency alerts on your smartphone, register your number with the Alert Marin notification system at
  • Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone. 

HHS offers additional tips for staying cool on its “Stay Safe and Cool During Warm Weather” webpage. For more information on how to stay safe during the heat wave and to avoid heat-related illness, review CDC's Extreme Heat guidelines.


Laine Hendricks
Public Information Officer
County Administrator's Office

3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite #325
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-7496
Email: Laine Hendricks
County Administrator website