On a hot summer day, keeping cool is priority.
"It's so hot,” said Henry Norris. “When you're walking down the street, people look at you and think it's raining because you're sweating so bad.”
Norris says he comes to the Bakersfield Rescue Mission daily to get out of the sun and into the air conditioning.
"I take a jug of water with me,” he said. “And, sometimes I’m just walking down the street, and I pour it down my head and about another block, I’m dry again."
And, he's not the only one. Since summer began, more than 50 people have come to the Rescue Mission's Emergency drop-in center each day.
"When the weather heats up, a lot of folks are not walking, they’re not leaving the campus,” said Tim Calahan, Director of Community Development at the Bakersfield Rescue Mission. “They want to stay here, close to an indoor area, close to a water bottle and ice to cool down."
Terry Millar likes to sit in the shade behind a tree.
"It's not even in the afternoon yet, and I’m here sweating,” Millar said. “It's like a Heaven here on Earth, what would Bakersfield do without this place?"
Larry Johnson agrees. He says he likes the variety of activities at the mission. "When it gets real hot in Bakersfield, it does bake. And, to be able to come here and fellowship with brothers that are trying to be better men, it's encouraging. I like to come play ping pong, dominoes, and chess."
The drop-in center is open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 816 East 21st Street.
90-year-old Jake Luttrell says he doesn't have air conditioning at home. He beats the heat by coming to the cooling center on Niles Street. It is in the East Niles Senior Center and serves as one of 13 cooling centers in the county.
"When it gets to be about 105 on up, you kind of suffer it out,” he said. “Either that or you stay down here all day."
Temperatures have to reach 105 degrees in order for cooling centers to open in the valley. In the mountains, it has to be right at 95 degrees and 108 degrees in the desert areas.
"If the temperature does change and it’s hotter than what's forecast and we don't have the cooling centers open, we're just stuck with that because we have to do it a day in advance because of staffing,” said John Cove, a county parks coordinator.
Cooling centers are open from 1 p.m. until 8 p.m. as necessary.