Beat the Heat – The South End Cooling Guide

by Patheresa Wells

Last week, temperatures in Seattle reached the 90s, a scorching sign of the long-awaited arrival of summer. And for many, it was already too much. But, regardless of all the complaints, an increase in temperature can quickly turn dangerous if safety is not taken into account. Cooling centers across the region are designed to protect people from heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. As extreme heat continues to spread “with a potential of more than two weeks of 90 degrees (Fahrenheit) each summer,” according to projected climate change estimates for the city of Seattle, the need for resources to beat the heat is a public health issue.

Eric, 6, splashes another kid with water at Beacon Mountain Spray Park in Jefferson Park. Eric came to the park with his grandmother to get rid of the record-breaking heat. (Photo: Susan Fried)

When the weather is at its most extreme, the need for places to relax is universal. Only 44% of Seattle homes have air conditioning. Refrigeration sites for those without air conditioning and for non-domesticated residents provide a place to ensure that they can prevent heat-related illnesses. In addition, the need for it calls for attention to how climate change in the Pacific Northwest between 1895 and 2011 led to “statistically significant warming occurring in all seasons except spring.”

Although current forecasts show temperatures lower than last week’s heat wave, high summer temperatures will unfortunately remain, making cooling centers the new normal for public services.

This cooling guide is a resource for anyone looking for a haven away from the heat. It is by no means meant to be comprehensive. Dial 211 for a full list of Washington state resources, or search nearby for a cooling center on its website.

Do you know a place that should be on our list? Tell us at [email protected] This information will be updated, so check back for current information.


According to Public Health – Seattle & King County, some tips for staying safe in extreme temperatures include:

  • Check with people at risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, including the elderly and those with chronic health conditions.
  • Do outdoor activities in the morning and evening when it’s cooler.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and reducing or avoiding caffeine and alcohol.
  • Never leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car, even with the windows open.
  • Recognize and watch for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Seek medical attention immediately if you experience symptoms. Symptoms include:
    • High body temperature (103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher).
    • Hot, red, dry, or moist skin
    • Fast and strong pulse
    • Headache
    • Dizziness or confusion
    • nausea
  • Check the local weather forecast for how-to information on the heat.

For more information about monitoring for heat-related illness, see the CDC’s guidelines. They encourage learning the symptoms to be prepared in case of an emergency.

Where to calm down: Beaches, pools and mist parks

There are a number of options for beaches, pools, and spray gardens. A full list can be found on the Seattle Parks and Recreation website.

Little girl praying in a mist of water droplets, which focus on the blurry image of the girl playing
Beacon Mountain, one of Seattle’s popular spray parks, provided some relief from Seattle’s 90-degree temperatures during the last week of July 2022 (Photo: Susan Fried)


Elke Beach Park
2665 Alki Ave. SW, Seattle, WA 98116
Open from May 27 to September 4, 4am to 10pm

Pritchard Island Beach
8400 55th Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98118
Open daily from noon to 7 pm on weekdays, and from 11 am to 7 pm on weekends

Madrona Beach
853 Lake Washington Blvd., Seattle, WA 98122
From 4 AM to 11:30 PM

Mount Baker Park Beach
2521 Lake Park Dr. s. Seattle, Washington 98144
From 6 AM to 10 PM

wading pools

These are open when the temperature is expected to be above 70 degrees. Please check their Facebook page for the current schedule.

Beacon Hill Playfield
1902 13th Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98144

Van Asselt Community Center
2820 S. Myrtle St., Seattle, WA 98108

swimming pools

Rainier Beach Pool
8825 Rainier Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98118
Please check her schedule for hours.

Matt Griffin YMCA pool
3595 S. 188th St., SeaTac, WA 98188
Please call 206-244-5880 to confirm opening hours.

Altukwila pool
4414 S 144 Tawakila Street 98168
Acceptance is first come, first served. Please call 206-267-2350 to determine availability.

West Seattle and Fauntleroy YMCA Pool
3622 SW Snoqualmie St. Seattle, WA 98126
Please call 206-935-6000 to confirm opening hours.

A little girl initially tests the water at Beacon Mountain Spray Park in Jefferson Park
A young girl initially tests the waters at Beacon Mountain Spray Park in Jefferson Park. The last week of July 2022 was a record period for consecutive days above 90 degrees in Seattle. (Photo: Susan Fried)

sprinkler gardens

Highland Park Stadium
1100 SW Cloverdale Street, Seattle, Washington 98106
From 11 am to 8 pm every day of the week

Jefferson Park
3801 Beacon Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98108
From 11 am to 8 pm every day of the week

Judkins Park and Playfield
2150 Norman Street, Seattle, Washington 98144
From 11 am to 8 pm every day of the week

agency community center
12424 42nd Ave. S., Tukwila, WA 98168
Call 206-767-2322 to confirm the schedule.

Libraries and internal websites

International District / Chinese Community Center
719 8th Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98104
Monday / Wednesday / Friday: 11 am to 9 pm
Tuesday / Thursday: from 10 am to 6 pm
Saturday: from 10 am to 5 pm

Seattle Public Library South Park Branch
8604 8th Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98108
Please check the Seattle Public Library website for details on air-conditioned branches.

Rainier Beach Community Center
8825 Rainier Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98118
Monday to Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Friday, 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

SeaTac Community Center
13735 24th Ave. S., SeaTac, WA 98168
Monday to Thursday, 8:30 AM to 9 PM
Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

other options

Visit the King County Regional Homelessness Authority website for its guide on severe weather resources for homeless people. There is also a Google map from community sources that lists local cooling points. In addition to these sites, check out small air-conditioned businesses in your area. Many cafes, restaurants, cinemas, and bars with air conditioning are comfortable places to hang out during a heat wave. In these cases, it is best to call ahead to confirm!

Patricia Wells A gay poet, writer, and storyteller living in SeaTac, Washington. Born to a black mother and a Persian father, her experience as a multicultural child shaped her desire to defend and amplify her community. She is currently studying at Highline College in Des Moines. Follow her on Twitter Tweet embed.

📸 Featured image: A group of children take advantage of the cool water at Beacon Mountain Spray Park in Jefferson Park Beacon Hill on Saturday, July 30, 2022. (Photo: Susan Fried)

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