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As Extreme Temperatures Arrive, Fans Still Available for Seniors

Seniors and people with chronic conditions particularly vulnerable to heat

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
News Release - June 29, 2012
Contact: Lori Walston, DHHS Public Affairs, 919-855-4840

RALEIGH — In anticipation of record-breaking extreme heat coming to the state over the next few days, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Al Delia reminds seniors that the Operation Fan/Heat Relief program is continuing to distribute no-cost fans across the state.

“While all of our state’s residents are feeling the effects of high temperatures, older adults, young children, and people with chronic medical conditions are particularly at high risk of heat-related illnesses and death,” Delia said. “Operation Fan/Heat Relief is an important intervention to assist our state’s older adults. These fans can be a lifesaver for some and help all recipients stay more comfortable and healthier in their homes.”

People 60 or older and adults with disabilities are eligible to receive one fan per year to help alleviate heat problems within their home. In certain counties, air conditioners are made available for people with more serious health problems.

More information on local provider agencies distributing the fans can be found on the web at www.ncdhhs.gov/aging/fanheat.htm, or by calling the regional Area Agency on Aging or a local aging agency.

Hot Weather Tips for Seniors from DHHS

  • Check up on friends or neighbors who live alone.
  • Talk with your doctor and be aware of the medications you take and how they may affect you. For example, know that painkillers can reduce awareness of the heat, and diuretics, which promote fluid loss, can lead to dehydration more often during hot weather.
  • Stay out of direct sunlight, put shades over windows and use cross-ventilation and fans to cool rooms.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing that permits sweat to evaporate.
  • Cool off by taking cool baths or showers or placing ice bags or wet towels on the body.
  • Drink plenty of liquids such as water, fruit or vegetable juices to replace the fluids lost by sweating. As a person ages, thirst declines. Limit intake of alcoholic beverages or fluids that have too much salt, since salt can complicate existing medical problems, such as high blood pressure.
  • Eat small meals and eat more often, avoiding foods that are high in protein, which increases metabolic (body) heat.
  • Join your local senior center or take advantage of buildings made accessible to seniors during excessive heat.
  • Take the heat seriously, and do not ignore danger signs like nausea, dizziness or lightheadedness, fatigue, confusion, labored breathing, chest discomfort, and rapid or erratic pulse. These can all be signs of trouble. Get to a cool place, drink cool water slowly and seek medical help if conditions don’t improve.

Since 1986, the Operation Fan/Heat Relief program has distributed fans and air conditioners to seniors in need through regional area agencies on aging offices. Last year, donations totaled $135,500, and with these funds 10,523 fans and 65 air conditioners were distributed. The project is made possible through donations from Dominion Resources, Duke Energy, Progress Energy and the Valassis Giving Committee.

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