Thursday, August 09, 2001

Health risk high for shut-ins without air conditioning

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Today marks the seventh heat alert day of the year, meaning that the combination of high temperatures and humidity can lead to health risks, especially for older people.

        Temperatures are expected to reach into the 90s, and the sizzling heat will keep people close to fans, air conditioners and water bottles until Friday. That's when a cold front from the Great Lakes region is expected to disperse the stagnant air hanging over Cincinnati.

[photo] Meals on Wheels driver Nicole Gresham makes sure Andrew Irby is keeping cool at his home in Bond Hill.
(Thomas E. Witte photo)
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        Authorities on both sides of the Ohio River continued heat alerts through today, and Hamilton County Coroner Carl L. Parrott Jr. said he feared that last week's two heat stroke deaths may not be the last.

        Dr. Parrott said he hoped Tristate residents learned vital lessons from the 18 reported heat-related deaths in 1999.

        Then, he and others used every news medium available to tell people how to reduce their heat-related risks.

        “We just kind of banged the drum,” he said. “I'm hoping that we have had enough of an impact to make a difference.”

        Meanwhile, Cincinnati firefighters donated more than 100 fans to the St. Vincent DePaul Society, and volunteers, including Meals-On-Wheels drivers, checked on the elderly and shut-ins.

[photo] Sean Arnold gets a hand from his 18-month-old brother, Connor, unloading fans for the St. Vincent DePaul Society
(Michael E. Keating photo)
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        Andrew Irby, 66, of Bond Hill, said Nicole Gresham, who delivers meals to him, provides the only breath of fresh air in his day.

        “You all look out for me, don't you?” he asked her Wednesday, as she stopped by to deliver a meal, a smile and a bit of conversation.

        Temperatures and humidity combined to push heat indexes to 100 degrees or above by early afternoon along the East Coast as far north as New York, and Flint, Mich., hit a record 94, according to the Associated Press.

        “It feels like Houston,” golfer Ben Crenshaw, who lives in Austin, Texas, said at the Buick Open Pro-Am near Flint.

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