Heat Effects on Seniors in The Valley

Fresno, CA Two years ago there were close to 60 heat-related deaths in the Valley all seniors. That number dropped dramatically last summer (06) and experts say it's because seniors are taking the necessary steps to keep cool.

"Mazzie" Schmitz and her Pomeranian Amy pass the time socializing at the Senior Citizens' Village in Southeast Fresno. Thursday most of the conversation focused on the scorching heat and the village workers who worked to get the swamp coolers up and running.

Schmitz said, "I just want to keep it down as low as I can. I don't like to turn it on unless I have to."

Schmitz, like many seniors in the Valley, lives on a fixed income and relies on a ceiling fan and floor fan to keep cool before turning on any type of air conditioning. Schmitz said turning on the cooler might lower the mercury but hits her in the wallet. "Our utilities are all included in our rent. So, but then I don't like to get my rent too high."

Jean Robinson does non-profit work assisting seniors in both Madera and Fresno and said "seniors have a tendency to prefer the warmth because they don't hurt as much because of their arthritis."

Robinson says many seniors wait too long to turn on the air conditioner when the heat scorches the Valley which can lead to heat strokes and even death.

"It's a preventable death and we need to make sure we don't lose anyone because they don't have the proper information," said Robinson.

Robinson said seniors can guard themselves against heat by closing blinds, keeping the A-C around 78 degrees. And she also reminds seniors with pets, like Amy, to keep plenty of water for those four-legged furry friends.

Seniors can call 453-6494. That's the number to the Fresno Madera Area Agency on Aging (FMAAA) for information on discounts for utilities also for other ways to keep cool.

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