Even a mild summer can have a negative impact on vulnerable Ohioans
Programs available now to help ease the cost of keeping cool
Aug. 20, 2014
While this summer has seen unseasonably cool temperatures, some Ohioans, particularly children, older adults and others with chronic and respiratory medical conditions are at increased risk when the mercury rises. Daytime high temperatures around the state are projected to be in the low seventies to mid-eighties through the rest of August, but if we've learned anything about the weather in recent years, it's to expect the unexpected.
The Ohio Department of Aging and our sister agencies are working together to make sure that all of Ohio's vulnerable citizens remain safe during warmer weather. We encourage all Ohioans to check in on older neighbors and loved ones to see how they are doing. Check if they need anything and that they are safe in their surroundings. If they are experiencing distress, please see they get the attention they need. Older adults are at increased risk for heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
- If you or someone you know experience heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or fainting, you may be experiencing heat exhaustion. Move to a shady or air-conditioned area, remove or loosen tight clothing, apply cool, wet cloths or towels and sip on a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes. Call 9-1-1 in the event of vomiting, loss of consciousness or refusal to drink water.
- If you or someone you know experiences a body temperature of 103 degrees or higher; red, hot and dry skin with no sweating; rapid pulse; headache; dizziness; nausea; confusion; unconsciousness or gray skin color, you may be suffering from heat stroke. Call 9-1-1 for immediate medical attention. Before medical help arrives, begin cooling by any means possible, such as spraying with water from a garden hose or a cool tub of water.
To stay cool and beat the heat, the Ohio Department of Health suggests keeping your normal routine as much possible. Take cool baths, eat properly and ask for help if you don't feel well. Increase your fluid intake by drinking cool fluids. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Do not take salt tablets without seeking advice from a health provider. Avoid being out in the heat of the day and make the most of the earlier, cooler morning or later evenings.
For many, air conditioning is a necessity to deal with chronic conditions. However, according to AARP, the additional expense is more than just a financial burden to many older Ohioans, especially those making less than $15,000 annually. "Cutting back on air conditioning can pose a serious health risk," says AARP. The Public Utilizes Commission of Ohio (PUCO) reminds consumers about energy assistance programs that offer some relief from higher utility bills:
- Percentage of Income Payment Plan Plus (PIPP Plus) - Allows eligible customers to make affordable monthly energy payments on a year-round basis. When a PIPP Plus household pays its monthly PIPP Plus payment on-time and in-full, some of their old debt and the rest of that month's bill go away in the form of a credit on their utility account. The program currently accepts applications for the customers of the following companies: American Electric Power (AEP), Columbia Gas of Ohio, Dayton Power and Light (DP&L), Dominion East Ohio Gas, Duke Energy, FirstEnergy (Cleveland) Illuminating Co., Ohio Edison, Toledo Edison) and Vectren. The household must provide a copy of current utility bill which should be in the name of the PIPP Plus applicant.
- Summer Crisis Program (SCP) - Special component of HEAP, the Summer Crisis Program provides summer cooling assistance for low-income elderly households and for Ohioans with qualifying medical condition is available from July 1 through August 31. This is only applicable to electric utilities. If eligible, a one-time payment assistance of up to $350 can be applied towards: electric bill payment, air conditioning unit or fan. You must apply for the Summer Crisis Program in person by scheduling an appointment with a local provider agency.
Both the PIPP and Summer Crisis Program applications are available online. For additional information regarding local assistance programs, or to find out where to donate fans or air conditioners, contact your area agency on aging at 1-866-243-5678.
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