Local News

Senior Citizens: A Fan's Biggest Fan

Posted June 21, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— The sun comes up. The temperature begins to rise and so do heat related health risks. On a sweltering day like Saturday, all it takes is about five seconds outside to feel the intense heat. But the heat can be just as overwhelming for people inside, especially for the Triangle's growing elderly population.

At times, it's intense-- sizzling and baking. In other words, it's just plain hot. And the rising mercury has some people headed straight to the water. 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 stay cool 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 "Operation Fan" comes in. Every summer the program provides 200-300 fans to senior citizens.

For Susie and Walter Hemphill, the fan is a necessity. The Hemphill's say they absolutely have to have air circulation in order to keep them from heat 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 no screens on the windows," says Resources for Seniors representative Garman Troup. "They can't open the windows, so they sit there and swelter."

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

If you need some relief from the heat there are many places you can call for 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 Senior Citizens at (919) 688- 8247. And in Cumberland County, call the Council for older adults at (910) 484-0111.