BEAT the HEAT: Summer temperatures on the rise

Stacey Tinsley/Bossier Press-Tribune The first week of June brought temperatures in excess of 90 degrees. Many have entered Phase 2 of pandemic recovery by spending time outdoors in the heat.

During the hot summer months, it can be difficult to stay cool and enjoy yourself, especially if you don’t have air conditioning or have to be outside.

Prolonged exposure to excessive heat in summer months can be dangerous, especially  for senior adults.

Every summer, many Americans die of health problems caused by excessive heat and humidity. Senior adults and individuals with chronic medical conditions are at high risk of developing heat-related illnesses, because of aging-related physical changes in the body, chronic health conditions, and even effects of taking some medications.

“Seniors are more susceptible to heat exhaustion, heat stress and heat stroke, so they need to be more attentive to staying hydrated,” said Tamara Crane, executive director of Bossier Council on Aging. “[Seniors need to be] watching how much physical activity they do and when, wear loose clothing to allow for airflow and keeping cool. It is more than just “staying in the A/C” though.”

You can keep cool indoors during the day by blocking out sunlight and avoiding activities that can make your home hotter. When you’re outside, you can beat the heat by looking for shade, going to areas with a natural breeze, and wearing the right clothes. The same goes for senior adults, according to Crane.

“Stay in the shade or indoors during the hottest times of the day, typically from around noon until about 5 p.m.,” she said. “Do any outdoor activities early in the morning before the day heats up. Stay hydrated. This means drinking water. Dehydration makes heat exposure worse on the body. Keep a small cloth that you can wet down to help stay cool.”

To help combat the heat during the summer months, senior residents of Bossier Parish can get a new fan from the Bossier Council on Aging. In order to receive a fan, seniors must live in Bossier Parish, be older than 60, and have not received a fan from them in the past 12 months.

Crane said seniors can also seek utility assistance via LiHEAP or EFSP funds from the Bossier Office of Community services. 

“Some utility companies also offer a program for seniors that fall below a certain income to apply for a little bit of help,” said Crane. “Also there is the weatherization program. It is based out of Desoto, but covers all of our parish.”

The Weatherization Assistance Program is a free service, funded by the Department of Energy. The program is designed to help low-income families, with priority given to the elderly, disabled, and homes with children. 

The program makes homes energy efficient. Work performed on a home might include: attic and/or wall insulation, air sealing, caulking, and health and safety measures. 

This program is not a home improvement or repair program. To qualify for services, both the household income and dwelling must meet guidelines. 

To request an application, contact the DeSoto Parish Police Jury/Office of Community Services Weatherization Assistance Program at 318.872.0880, Monday through Friday 8am – 4:30pm. Federal regulations prevent discrimination of any kind in delivery of service.

If you would like to donate a new fan of any style, color or size to help Bossier seniors, please go to the Bossier Council on Aging at 706 Bearkat Drive in Bossier City.