Delco seniors receive cooling fans

in anticipation of summer

Delco's Heat Plan details resources to help vulnerable people cope with extreme heat

Summer officially began yesterday, June 21, and the east coast has already seen its first 90-degree heat wave of the season. Weather forecasters predict the Philadelphia area and suburbs are expected to see continued moisture bring warmer temperatures and humidity continuing to build into July and August.

With that in mind, Delaware County Council wants residents to know that the county's Heat Plan is in place. Both the Office of Services for the Aging (COSA) and the county Office of Adult and Family Services offer assistance to elderly and vulnerable residents throughout the summer months.

"We all love the warm sunshine that comes with summer, but it's important for our residents, particularly the elderly, very young and those with health challenges to say cool, stay hydrated and stay informed," said County Councilman Dave White, the county's liaison to Human Services, who provided details of the county's heat plan. "The fact is that heat is dangerous, and it can kill, or cause heat stroke or heat exhaustion."

Residents are urged to visit the county website to read the 2017 Heat Plan and check out the resources. Residents should take precautions during heat waves and high humidity, to check in with elderly and disabled family members and neighbors who are at greater risk for heat-related illnesses.

The National Weather Service describes a heat wave as three or more days when the temperature is 90-degrees or higher.

COSA's Heat Plan includes a Heat Information Line, extended hours at Senior Centers, and educational information on heat safety tips, dehydration, and safe use of fans. The first shipment of fans arrived at COSA on Thursday, June 22. COSA purchased 200 of the fans and 100 were donated by PECO. That same day, the fans were delivered to the county's eight senior centers for distribution to seniors needing cooling assistance.

"A fan might not seem like a big help, but air flow helps the body evaporate sweat and cool down," White said. "Creating air flow is important. We want to thank PECO for their generous donation to our seniors."

COSA's Heat Information Line at (610) 872-1558 is a recorded 24-hour phone service that runs June 1 through Sept. 30, providing residents with heat advisory updates and information. People who need additional assistance can contact a COSA's Information and Assistance service at (610) 490-1300. White said the Delaware County Heat Plan calls for senior centers and adult day care centers to extend their hours, to offer water and non-caffeinated beverages throughout the day, and to reinforce with service-provider drivers to check on consumers.

Care managers are asked to identify "at risk" consumers who are homebound, living alone or have a prior history of inadequate cooling in their home.

When the elderly and chronically ill don't have protection from the heat, such as air-conditioning and plenty of fluids, they can develop serious health effects.

It is also important to remember the safety of pets during the warmer, more humid months as animals respond differently to heat. "It's not just the ambient temperature but also the humidity that can affect your pet," said White. "If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves, and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels—very quickly. Please also remember to not leave anyone in a car, including your pets and make sure they have plenty of water and shade."

Delaware County Senior Medical Advisor Dr. George Avetian said it is particularly important for seniors and those with health problems to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Common symptoms of dehydration are headache, dry skin, light-headedness, nausea and fast heartbeat.

On any day when temperatures reach 90-degrees, it is especially important for young children and older adults, as well as people who have heart and breathing problems or are on certain medications, to pay close attention to what they are doing and how they feel during hot and humid weather.

People need to drink before they feel thirsty and if someone experiences signs of heat exhaustion, drinking water is not enough to reverse the symptoms. Individuals might need medical help.

COSA offers the following heat safety tips: drink plenty of fluids (in consultation with your physician regarding medication and fluids); wear lightweight clothing; stay indoors or seek relief at a senior center, mall or friend's house who has air-conditioning; and avoid strenuous activity. People should limit alcohol or beverages containing caffeine.

Announcing Delaware County's Heat Plan

Delaware County Councilman Dave White visited the County Office of Services for the Aging (COSA) in Eddystone on June 22 to detail the resources the county offers to help vulnerable residents, particularly the elderly, stay safe during the hot summer season. Councilman White, joined by members of COSA and Peco loaded cooling fans on to county vans to be delivered to the county's eight senior centers to distribute to elderly residents free of charge. Details on the county's heat plan can be found here: