Leader Blues

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

TOP STORY > >Hot weather fuels fan use,Precautions

Leader staff writer

The White County Aging Program in Searcy has been giving away fans since June when temperatures started to climb.

“Our drivers who deliver meals will notice that it’s hot inside some of the houses and take fans on their next delivery,” said Debbie Nantze.

The program serves about 10,000 White County residents who are 60 years or older. Nantze said even though many have air conditioning, they won’t turn it on for fear of running up their electric bill. So far, about 60 fans have been provided for the elderly and more are available.

Nantze said the office at 2200 E. Moore, down the street from Berryhill Park, also is a cooling center from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Anyone who needs a place to get out of the heat is welcome, she said, and tea and lemonade are served.

“We’ve been doing it since the temperature hit 100 degrees,” she said. “We had quite a few last week.”

School starts in two weeks and that means junior high and senior high football teams have started practicing twice a day, “two-a-days,” as they say.

John Shannon, head football coach at Beebe, said those practices don’t stop because of the heat, but he does take all necessary precautions to make sure the players are not injured.

“Water is accessible anytime they need water,” Shannon said. “We have frequent 10-minute breaks for Gatorade. We’ve got a trainer on hand and even if a player thinks he’s alright, if there’s any doubt, we are on the side of caution.”

At the Beebe Senior Center on Apple Street, volunteer Faith Olivo says bingo draws the elderly in where they are safe from the heat for several hours a day. The year-old program has about 25 regular clients and is growing. While they are there, Olivo says they warn them to stay out of the heat.

They also call the elderly to check on them, she said.

In Cabot, Parks Director Larry Tarrant says that at $3 a day for admission, “The pool is the place to be when it’s this hot.”

And both pools, the indoor pool at the community center on Hwy. 38 and the outdoor pool on Richie Road, are doing a brisk business.

Cherry Godwin at the Cabot Senior Citizen Center said 16 elderly area residents came to the center for lunch on Monday.Usually that number is closer to 10 or 12, she said, so the heat might have brought them in.

Often, the elderly with air conditioning are reluctant to turn it on because of the cost, she said.So she encourages them to come to the center for lunch so they can save enough on their groceries to be able to afford to at least turn the air on low.

Ward Mayor Art Brooke said the city has call list of elderly residents who are checked on a couple of times a week. So far all are well even in the heat, he said.

While it’s hot, the work schedule for many city workers is from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., he said.

When possible, inside work is scheduled for the hottest part of the day.