A deadly heat wave that has claimed at least six lives in parts of the American Southwest continues.

While temperatures cooled off Friday in Los Angeles, residents are bracing for a long, hot summer.

Planes were grounded for a time in Phoenix earlier this week, as temperatures in parts of the U.S. Southwest soared to 45 degrees Celsius and higher, from Tucson, Arizona, to Palm Springs, California.

Cooling stations, community centers

People have tried their best to stay cool, using community cooling stations in parks and community centers throughout the region.

An air-conditioned senior center in the Los Angeles suburb of Canoga Park offered companionship and relief from the heat.

Four women relaxed over a game of dominoes, while in another part of the center, a dozen women kept active in a tap-dancing class.

They are fine indoors, center director Karin Haseltine said, but she warned too much activity outside on hot days could be hazardous for both seniors and young children.

Haseltine said many seniors also worry about the cost of air-conditioning. 

“They can’t turn it on because the bill is so expensive,” she said.

Inside the center, where it is cool, seniors were staying active, taking tap dancing classes and doing yoga.

Deaths blamed on heat

Scattered fires have burned throughout the West, and several deaths in Nevada, Arizona and California have been blamed on intense heat.

Animals are in danger, too.

Zoo workers have been hosing down the elephants at the Phoenix Zoo. Authorities also warn parents and pet owners not to leave animals or children in cars, where temperatures can quickly soar to deadly levels.

At an air-conditioned center in Los Angeles, senior volunteer Rosalie said people are making the best of being indoors.

“The don’t have to worry about being uncomfortable, getting ill,” she said, and can have lunch and activities with friends.

Others are doing what they can to stay cool outdoors, from lounging in the shade to splashing in public fountains.

Makeshift hydration stations are offering bottled water. Near-record-high temperatures are expected through early next week, and people say they are prepared for more heat this summer.

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