High temperatures pose threat to elderly

High temperatures pose threat to elderly
(Source: KAIT-TV)
(Source: KAIT-TV)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Region 8 seniors could be in danger of heat exhaustion or heat stroke due to the dangerously hot temperatures.

Several organizations have teamed up to try and make sure that doesn't happen.

Executive Director for the United Way of Northeast Arkansas Nannette Heard said they felt the need to act quickly due to the extreme temperatures Jonesboro saw on Thursday.

"It's really hot outside right now," Heard said. "We're concerned about our elderly friends and this is actually a program that David with the Sun approached us about doing last year when it started getting hot. We just want to make sure that our elderly people are taken care of."

Heard said fans were dropped off at the Helping Neighbors Food Pantry on Huntington Street in Jonesboro.

"The Helping Neighbors Food Pantry will be giving them out to their clients," Heard said. "If you have a medical reason you need a fan and don't have one available, like if you have a prescription for oxygen or something then you can get a fan as well."

Coordinator for Helping Neighbors Food Pantry Liz Ivener said they see many seniors struggling to get by.

"The biggest issue is that many of our seniors have a limited income," Ivener said. "They're old enough that they have the minimal social security. Many of them are widows and maybe never worked themselves so they're drawing survivors' benefits which tends to be even less. They're trying to survive on $600 to $700 a month and often don't own their own home and the biggest chunk of that goes to rent. So, utilities often have to be scaled back and they come to the food pantry for food because they have no money left over."

"It's so expensive in the summertime to pay for your air conditioning," Heard said. "Unfortunately, some of our older people won't have air conditioning. Or maybe it's broken and they can't afford to have it fixed. So, hopefully this is something that will make their lives a little easier."

Ivener said there is definitely a need to be met.

"Many of our clients and even people in the community who are not our clients will come by to get fans," Ivener said. "Many don't have air conditioning or maybe they do, but don't have the money to pay the power bill. The ones that are older, many have breathing problems and the heat just totally zaps them. So, being able to have even a fan is a blessing."

There are a couple of different ways people can help make a difference.

"We will take donations of fans at our office," Heard said. "Our office is located at 407 Union Street. Fans can also be dropped off at The Sun and also at the Helping Neighbors Food Pantry. If someone would like to make a monetary donation, then they can do that through the United Way and then we'll purchase the fans for them. We do have a couple of connections we're working on to maybe get fans a little bit of a reduced price, so we'll take care of that for them. And also people who donate can get a receipt for their donation and hopefully take that off on their taxes later."

Ivener said last year they gave out over 200 fans and could have given out more.

The fans are available at the Helping Neighbors Food Pantry.

Ivener said they'll be giving them out as long as they have them.

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