An air-conditioned meeting site at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters is among dozens of public cooling centers now open in the city as the Pacific Northwest.
With a 1,000-person capacity, the Amazon meeting center is among 36 locations where local residents can seek refuge amid unprecedented temperatures, the city of Seattle announced Monday on its and Amazon confirmed in an email.
Many residents in the area lack air conditioning due to the region’s normally temperate climate. But a so-called heat dome — a heat wave that hovers over a region — has pushed temperatures into the triple digits across the Pacific Northwest.
Dangerously hot conditions persisted Tuesday in northwest and west central Washington, including Seattle, where an excessive heat warning remained in effect until 11 p.m. local time, the National Weather Service said in an advisory. It also forecast heat index values of up to 101 for Tuesday afternoon, warning that the extreme heat and humidity heightened the risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
The Amazon cooling center is located at the retailer’s campus in downtown Seattle. It also served as a pop-up clinic offering COVID-19 vaccines earlier this year.
For its employees, Amazon, the state of Washington’s biggest employer, installed huge floor fans to help cool a warehouse at its complex in Kent, where workers were given iced neck scarves and drinking water, the Seattle Times reported.
At another facility at the site, some departments ran “power hours” during which employees were urged to move more quickly to, workers told the newspaper.
“In an unprecedented heat wave like this, we’re glad that we installed climate control in our fulfillment centers many years ago,” an Amazon spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch in an email. “We have systems in place that constantly measure the temperature in the building, and the safety team monitors temperature on every floor individually. We’re also making sure that everyone has easy access to water and can take time off if they choose to, though we’re finding that many people prefer to be in our buildings because of the AC.”
The spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on the report about Amazon trying to have workers move more quickly.