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Decal Alerts Postal Workers to Possible Emergencies

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WILSON — Excessive heat can be more than just an inconvenience. To elderly and homebound people it can be deadly. But help is available for at-risk people. The best thing is, it's free and close to home.

The heat index topped 110 degrees Friday in eastern cities like Wilson, Rocky Mount and Goldsboro.

"It's definitely the humidity. It's very humid out here and there's no breeze really going too much," said

Most healthy people can cope, but the heat can be fatal for elderly and disabled people, but now, anyone with a mailbox has a friend who stops by every day.

Postal carriers are trained to notice when people are in trouble or away from home, but the new, special decal can provide extra protection. It alerts the carrier to pay close attention to a particular house, and report any signs of trouble.

"If we notice that the mail accumulates a lot in the box, and it doesn't, they don't take it every day, I'll knock on the door to see if they're okay. If no one responds, a lot of times I'll go to the neighbor's door," says mail carrier Glen Borg.

Law enforcement is also available for people who ask for help. Beginning Monday, a computer will start dialing the numbers of older and homebound people in Wilson County on a daily basis. If they don't answer, an officer will stop by to check on them.

"The 9-1-1 communications center will dispatch an officer and contact a key holder that will respond to the person's residence so we can get them medical attention," says Pattie Barnes of the Wilson Police Department.

Both programs are free, and both have already saved lives.

It's easy to sign up for either program. Anyone interested can call the local post office, police or sheriff's department to find out more.