"Stay Cool Bloomington" Initiative Provides Free Pool Admission During Extreme Heat

Bloomington, Ind. ~ Bloomington, Ind. - As the summer heat continues to rise, the city of Bloomington is taking action to help its residents stay cool and safe. Economic & Sustainable Development (ESD) and Parks & Recreation have joined forces to offer "Stay Cool Bloomington Days at City Pools" - a program that provides free access to the city's two outdoor pools when the National Weather Service (NWS) HeatRisk is at Category 2 or higher.

The two pools participating in this program are Bryan Park Pool, located at 1020 S. Woodlawn Ave., and Mills Pool, located at 1100 W 14th St. These pools are open daily from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. during the summer season.

The NWS HeatRisk indicator is a forecasting system that takes into account various factors such as the unusualness of the heat for that time of year, the duration of the heat, and whether it poses an elevated risk of heat-related impacts. When the NWS HeatRisk reaches Category 2 or higher, that day is designated as a "Stay Cool Bloomington Day at City Pools".

To keep residents informed about these designated days, Parks and Recreation has set up multiple channels for updates. The Aquatics Hotline (812-349-3741), Facebook page (City of Bloomington, IN - Parks and Recreation), and pools website will all be updated by 11 a.m. on designated days. It should be noted that admission to the pools on these days will be free as long as funding for the program is available.

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The "Stay Cool Bloomington" initiative was developed by ESD in response to the public health risks posed by extreme heat caused by climate change. To ensure its success, an implementation team consisting of staff members from Monroe County Emergency Management, Monroe County Health Department, local non-profit organizations, Indiana University Health, and others has been created. The team's main focus is to increase awareness of the public health impacts of extreme heat and the resources available in the city to help residents stay cool.

One of the main goals of Stay Cool Bloomington is to provide equitable access to public swimming facilities. It has been observed that people with lower incomes are unable to afford the cost of pool admission, especially during prolonged heat waves when frequent visits are necessary for relief.

According to climate data, the south-central Indiana region has experienced a rise in the number of days with a heat index greater than 90°F. These extreme heat conditions pose a serious health risk, particularly for vulnerable populations such as older adults, infants and young children, people with chronic illnesses, and those who are unable to keep their living spaces cool.

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Shawn Miya, Assistant Director Sustainability with ESD, stated that "By offering free swimming, we can mitigate the effects of an increasing number of high heat days as a result of climate change, help reduce heat-related illnesses, provide a recreational activity for underrepresented populations, and foster a sense of community."

Chris Hamric, Aquatics Manager at Parks & Recreation also emphasized the benefits of swimming as a low-impact full-body workout that promotes cardiovascular health, muscle strength, and mental well-being. He added that access to swimming pools can provide essential exercise opportunities and teach vital skills such as swimming.

With this collaboration between ESD and Parks & Recreation, Bloomington residents can now beat the summer heat while staying active and healthy. The "Stay Cool Bloomington Days at City Pools" program not only provides relief from extreme temperatures but also promotes community engagement and inclusivity.

Filed Under: Government, City

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