Fans can't beat the heat alone

By Janice Broach - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - James Williams sat on the front porch of his north Memphis house Wednesday, wiping the sweat off his face.

"I've got some fans but its not doing any good," he said.

Williams has an air conditioner, and Wednesday, it was running.

"It's working, but its blowing hot air," he said.

Williams was hot, but his 68-year-old mother, Virginia, who was visiting him, said she was quite comfortable.

Virginia said she doesn't have an air conditioner, and she doesn't want one.

"It's too cold," she said. "My body aches."

Virginia Williams said fans work for her, though she knows about the six people who have died from the heat so far this year in Shelby County.

"I heard about the lady that died from the heat," she said. "They said her house was 88 degrees. To me, 88 is just comfortable."

But Dr. Helen Morrow of the Memphis-Shelby County Health Department says fans just blow hot air around, and you need something else to cool the air.

"You need to have ventilation flowing through the house so you can have air flowing through it that can cool it off," she said. "To re circulate the air, which may already be hot without any other cooling factors, can be dangerous."

Despite that Virginia Williams says her four fans are enough to keep her cool.

Seven heat related deaths have been reported in Shelby County this summer.

According to Shelby County Medical Examiner Dr. Karen Chancellor, a 73-year-old woman was found by her apartment manager inside of her South Memphis apartment at 1:45 p.m. Tuesday. The woman was last known to be alive on June 26. A ceiling fan was operating, but an air-conditioning unit was not in working condition in the woman's apartment. The indoor temperature was 89 degrees when the Medical Examiner's investigators arrived at the scene.

Monday, 89-year-old woman was found by a relative inside her north Memphis home at 8 a.m. Monday. She was last known to be alive at 3 p.m. Sunday. Two box fans were operating in the residence, but the indoor temperature was 87 degrees. There was no air-conditioning.

Also Monday, a 63-year-old man was found at 2:16 p.m. inside his north Memphis home. He was last known to be alive at 7 p.m. Sunday. There was no air-conditioning, although there was a window unit inside his residence, but it was not installed. The indoor temperature was 91 degrees.

The first heat-related death of the year was that of a 76-year-old woman on June 20th. That woman was found inside her home, which did not have an air conditioner.

Next, a 53-year-old man was found inside of his Midtown Memphis residence on June 25 at 5 p.m. Although fans were running, the indoor temperature was more than 100 degrees. He was last seen alive by his employer at 7 p.m. on June 24.

Then, a 75-year-old woman was found inside of her residence in Southwest Memphis on Saturday, June 27, at 7:30 p.m. by a relative. There was an air-conditioning unit in the residence, but it was not turned on. The indoor temperature was 94 degrees. She was last heard from on June 25.

The county's fourth heat related death was a 62-year old man who was found inside his Frayser home by a neighbor on June 27 at 9:10 p.m. A small fan was operating, but the indoor temperature was 95 degrees. He was last seen alive by a neighbor at 1:30 p.m. that day.

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