by CAROLE BELVER
According to the Centers for Disease Control, electric fans may provide some comfort but will not prevent heat-related illnesses when temperatures are in the high 90’s and may in fact lead to the acceleration of heat related illnesses.
With the temperatures in Central Texas hitting over 90° almost every day, local residents should be aware of the potential dangers of using portable electric fans. Used incorrectly, fans could increase the circulation of hot air that can cause heat related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke. In a flyer published by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it specifically recommends NOT directing the flow of portable electric fans towards yourself when room temperatures are hotter than 90°F.
Other heat related recommendations by the EPA include:
- DO NOT leave children and pets alone in car for any amount of time;
- DO NOT drink alcohol to try to stay cool;
- DO NOT eat heavy, hot, or hard to digest foods; and
- DO NOT wear heavy dark clothing.
In order to help cope with and handle the high temperatures, the EPA recommends that people spend time in air conditioned facilities such as malls or libraries. It also encourages people to use portable electric fans to blow hot air from rooms or draw in cooler air, take cool baths or showers, limit their time to direct exposure to the sun, drink plenty of water or other nonalcoholic fluids, eat light cool meals, and wear loose, light colored clothing to help beat the heat.
The EPA also encourages neighbors to check on older, sick or frail people who need help responding to the heat and to know the symptoms of excessive heat exposure and how to handle it appropriately. http://www.epa.gov/aging/pdfs/resources/ehe_guide-brief_final_2006_0619.pdf
Community Action, Inc. of Hays, Caldwell, and Blanco Counties encourages all citizens, especially vulnerable populations such as infants and children up to 4, people over the age of 65, and people who are overweight, ill or who are on certain medications and do not have air conditioning, to seek local air conditioned public facilities. Possible locations might include senior citizens centers, libraries, malls, or shopping centers. When temperatures are above 90°, spending at least a couple of hours each day in an air conditioned facility or home can greatly decrease a person’s risk of heat related illnesses.
Community Action has limited funding to help low-income local residents with utility bill payment assistance. For more information please call 512-878-2542 or visit our webpage at www.communityaction.com.
CAROLE BELVER is executive director of Community Action Inc. If you would like more information on this topic please contact Carole Belver or Tina Morrow at 512-392-1161 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org