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Senior Citizens: A Fan's Biggest Fan

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RALEIGH — The sun comes up. The temperature begins to rise and so do heat relatedhealth risks. On a sweltering day like Saturday, all it takes is aboutfive seconds outside to feel the intense heat. But the heat can be justas overwhelming for people inside, especially for the Triangle's growingelderly population.

At times, it's intense-- sizzling and baking. In other words, it's justplain hot. And the rising mercury has some people headed straight to thewater. For Randy Sawyer kicking back is the best way to keep cool.Sawyer's home isn't equipped with air conditioning. The best way to staycool is to stay still.

It's easy for most of us to stay out of the heat, but for those who can't,the temperatures can actually be quite dangerous. That's where "OperationFan" comes in. Every summer the program provides 200-300 fans to seniorcitizens.

For Susie and Walter Hemphill, the fan is a necessity. The Hemphill's saythey absolutely have to have air circulation in order to keep them fromheat stroke or sweating to death.

The Hemphill's can't use their air conditioning because of arthritis.Many other people don't have a choice.

"A lot of seniors live in trailers out in open fields, or in homes with noscreens on the windows," says Resources for Seniors representative GarmanTroup. "They can't open the windows, so theysit there and swelter."

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An option the Hemphill's won't have to live with. They just thank God forthe fan and the program. Without either, they'd be lost.

If you need some relief from the heat there are many places you can callfor help. In Wake County you can call Resources for Seniors at(919) 872-7933. In Johnston County, call the Council on Aging at(919) 934-6066. Durham County residents can call the Council for SeniorCitizens at (919) 688- 8247. And in Cumberland County, call the Councilfor older adults at (910) 484-0111.

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