News & Updates
Thursday, July 21, 2022

5 Ways to Stay Cool During a Heat Wave on a Budget

Despite the joy that blue skies and warm, sunny days bring, the rising temperatures in Massachusetts pose a number of risks to those without protective resources. For many people, staying cool during a heat wave means getting creative. Here are five ways individuals and families can stay cool during a heat wave while on a budget.

Take Advantage of SNAP’s “Cool” Cultural Experiences

While many know that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps those in need expand their food budgets, it’s not as well known that the program includes free and discounted access to a number of family-friendly public spaces, including libraries, museums, and theaters. In addition to offering an escape from the scorching heat, these experiences create opportunities for family bonding, education, and play. Catholic Charities Boston’s Basic Needs Department is happy to assist with applying for SNAP benefits. To set up an appointment, please visit

Visit a Community Cooling Center

With many families struggling with the rising temperatures this summer, the city of Boston has opened 12 Youth & Families Community Cooling Centers offering free access to air-conditioned space that is typically open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week and some weekends.

Take a Splash at One of Boston’s Parks

In response to a heat wave this past spring, the City of Boston published a list of Boston parks offering various water features for children to play in, including fountains, sprinklers, and wading pools. Find one near you here.

Make the Most of your Window Fans

While most people reach for a fan in the heat, many forget that there are specific ways to capitalize on their impact. According to, window fans placed in windows facing the shadiest side of your house or apartment building should be turned inward so that they blow cool air into the house. On the opposite side of the house, where the walls face the sun, fans should be placed so that they blow out the window, pushing hot air out.

Take a Page out of The Summer Program Playbook

As a childcare teacher and summer program coordinator, Mary Mastroelli from Catholic Charities’ Peabody Childcare Center is an expert at making the most of children’s time in all weather conditions. This summer, to beat the heat, Mastroelli and her fellow teachers at Peabody set up an inflatable water slide that sprays cool water and is strategically placed on top of a tarp slip n’ slide.

“The kids absolutely love it,” said Mastroelli. “We also do frequent trips to the beach, to indoor air-conditioned spaces like the trampoline park, and to Richardson’s Ice Cream. We always make sure the kids have lots of water throughout the day, and eat their lunch in the shade.”

Theresa Ferguson, Assistant Director of Catholic Charities Boston’s Malden Early Education and Learning Program, added that the teachers at Malden use sensory tables covered in water toys, spray bottles, and sponges for the children to play with and cool down.

Babies, young children, and older adults should be especially be treated with extra care during heat waves. Catholic Charities’ Division of Family & Youth Services offers a variety of family programs that provide advice, guidance, and support, including home visit programs for young, first-time parents to help build their parenting skills in a supportive environment, and companion/elder outreach programs for senior citizens living within Plymouth County and Lynn. To learn more, visit our parent and families program page here.

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