Freezing temps ignite Fresno County warming centers

Cities in Fresno County conditionally activate warming centers to help residents stay safe in below-freezing temperatures

(Submitted by the City of Sanger)
(Submitted by the City of Sanger)
Serena Bettis
Published January 14, 2024  • 
11:00 am

FRESNO COUNTY – As temperatures drop and reach below-freezing lows at night, cities and community organizations around Fresno County are opening up their doors for warming centers available to the public. 

The availability of most warming centers in Fresno County is dependent on the specific temperature of a given day or night, however. While there have been freeze warnings in place this January, the weather forecast for the end of the month shows higher nighttime temperatures that may not activate a warming center. 

According to the National Weather Service (NWS), what constitutes “extreme cold” in an area varies by region and what the average climate is like. In the northern United States, for example, temperatures are considered extremely cold when they reach below zero. Due to the mild winter climate of the Central Valley, extreme cold could refer to temperatures that are below freezing, which is 32 degrees Fahrenheit. 

A personal health and safety guide for extreme cold prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that individuals should take precautions and plan ahead when the weather forecast shows temperatures that are lower than what is typical for the region. 

“Whenever temperatures drop decidedly below normal and as wind speed increases, heat can leave your body more rapidly,” the CDC guide said. “Extreme cold is a dangerous situation that can bring on health emergencies in susceptible people, such as those without shelter or who are stranded, or who live in a home that is poorly insulated or without heat.”

Within the city of Kingsburg, the Kingsburg Community Assistance Programs and Services (KCAPS) offers its location at 1139 Draper St. as a warmer center between the hours of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday when temperatures are 55 degrees and below. Call KCAPS at 559-897-7961.

In Selma, the police department activates the city’s warming center on a day-by-day basis if there is potentially dangerous cold weather. The city of Selma will alert residents to the warming center’s activation through social media, and residents can call the police department to inquire as well. 

The warming center is in the Dr. Louie Community Room at the Selma Police Department, located at 2055 Third St. in Selma. 

The Sanger Community Center, located at 730 Recreation Ave. in Sanger, is open as an overnight warming center, from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m., on nights when the NWS has indicated that temperatures will be below freezing. Anyone who needs shelter is welcome to visit the Community Center at those times; signing in to the warming center occurs at the building’s north entrance. 

Water and an area to sanitize and wash hands is available at the Sanger warming center. For more information, contact the city’s recreation department at 559-876-6300 and select option 2. 

According to the Fresno County website, Fresno County Public Library branches are open as a place for people to warm up during their regular operating hours, but they are not official warming centers and do not have warming services available, such as the ability to bring in non-service animals.

Serena Bettis
General Assignment Reporter