07/11/10 — City residents struggle, compete with heat

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City residents struggle, compete with heat

By Aaron Moore
Published in News on July 11, 2010 1:50 AM

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Troy Herring

Dorothy Grady, a resident of West Haven, discusses the importance of having an air conditioner and a fan during the summer's extreme heat.

Elderly residents are the most at-risk for heat-related illnesses, say officials with the Meals on Wheels program operated by the Wayne Action Group for Economic Solvency, or WAGES.

During the intense heat of recent weeks, volunteers delivering meals have also been delivering bottled water along with meals and reminding their charges to drink plenty of water and not just soda or tea, said Brownie Doss, director of the program.

However, a big problem remains for some people -- they do not have air conditioning. If that is the case, experts say, people should stay inside or in the shade during the hottest part of the day,

"Best thing to do is to stay in the house," said Dorothy Grady, a resident at West Haven Apartments and a Meals on Wheels participant.

Ms. Grady received a fan for her home through the WAGES' nutrition program to help boost her window air conditioning unit. She said the fan has helped "a whole lot" but that she is still feeling the heat.

The WAGES Nutrition Office has received fan donations from Wayne County and from the public through Curtis Media Group, Doug Henry Chevrolet and Seymour Funeral Home.

"There aren't many fans left," Ms. Doss said. "We've been giving them to the disabled and the elderly."

However, there are still Wayne County residents out there without fans or air conditioning, and for them, there is no relief from the heat.

Tom Jones, who is Ms. Grady's neighbor in West Haven, is not a participant in the Meals on Wheels program, and said he has not received any help keeping cool this summer.

Jones lives in one of the few apartments in West Haven that does not have a window air conditioning unit, and he said there is nothing he can do to keep cool.

"A box fan would help if I could get it," he said, leaning on a broom in front of Ms. Grady's porch and wiping sweat from his brow.

West Haven does not have central air conditioning, but it does have window units in most of its apartments; Jones and a couple of his neighbors, who declined comment, are exceptions.

Jones said he previously installed his own window unit in his apartment, but it has since stopped working and he has been unable to fix or replace it.

Ms. Grady has offered the WAGES' Nutrition Office phone number to some of her other neighbors who are in need of cool air this summer.

"I called and told them I need a fan. Last month I got too hot," she said.

However, as Ms. Doss said, WAGES does not have many fans left, and the non-profit group has run out of money to spend on them. They have given out about 45 fans and one air conditioner so far this summer, but they are now having to rely on donations.

The Wayne County Services on Aging has given out around 75 fans, as well as one air conditioner.

Ms. Doss had a few recommendations for those living without air-conditioning, fans, or any other way of beating the heat this summer.

"They should certainly try to get somewhere where it's cool," she said. "Keep hydrated, drink lots of water. Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothes."

Ms. Doss said people who are at least 60 years old and are in need of cooling off can visit the Senior Center on John Street from 7:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 7:30 a.m. until noon on Fridays .

Those without air conditioning or other cooling devices should call the WAGES Nutrition Office at 580-1790 to determine whether a fan is available.