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Record Temps Put Older Coloradans at Risk

Temperatures have topped 100 degrees throughout the state, smashing records for daily highs and putting older adults and vulnerable families at risk of heat stroke, heat exhaustion and even death.

See Also: Heat Emergencies

According to the National Weather Service, June 2012 is shaping up to be one of the hottest on record.

AARP Colorado is reminding people to check on older family, friends and neighbors. Older people are at a higher risk because they do not easily adjust to sudden changes in temperatures.

AARP Colorado is helping support Volunteers of America as it gives out hundreds of fans. Many of those receiving fans are from the Meals on Wheels program. There is a waiting list for fans (and meals on wheels), so donations will go toward this effort by calling Amanda at 720-264-3307.

The warning signs of heat stroke include a high body temperature, hot and dry skin and a throbbing headache. Heavy sweating, paleness, cramping, dizziness and nausea are indicative of heat exhaustion.

In addition, AARP Colorado offers the following tips to help prevent heat-related emergencies:

  • Drink plenty of cool, nonalcoholic beverages (even if you are not thirsty).
  • Do not engage in strenuous activity.
  • Stay indoors during the hottest times of the day.
  • If there is no air condition, stay on the lower level of homes, also check for air-conditioned buildings in your community, such as a senior center, libraries and other public buildings, or air-conditioned malls.
  • Wear light-weight, loose fitting clothing and protect yourself from the sun with hats, sunglasses and umbrellas.
  • If suffering from a chronic medical condition, talk with your doctor about additional precautions to prevent illness.

The problem is compounded when people can’t pay electricity bills, and they won't turn on air conditioning. Energy Outreach Colorado offers summertime bill-paying help in those situations. Some of the funds come through House Bill 1028, which extended the transfer of state severance taxes to energy assistance programs through 2018. (For assistance, call toll-free 1-866-HEAT-HELP).

The legislation splits $13 million each year between three difference programs. Kelli Fritts, AARP advocacy director, says it was a good move by state lawmakers that “really does make a big difference in the lives of people who need it. It's specifically going to Colorado homes and families through this severance tax."