Taskforce shares advice for hot days

MGN Online

Fan donations needed

Thursday, June 6, 2013 - 4:26pm

With temperatures expected to hit triple digits in early June, the Extreme Weather Task Force (EWTF) is asking for fan donations to help protect the unprotected in our community. El Paso area Walmart Stores have already come together to generously donate 300 new fans to the EWTF.

"What a blessing. This is a huge donation and it arrives just in time. We were down to less than 130 fans in stock," said Grace Ortiz, Extreme Weather Task Force Chair and Community Initiatives Specialist with Adult Protective Services (APS).

During the past two years, the Extreme Weather Task Force (EWTF) has collected and delivered 1,279 free fans to qualifying elderly and needy families in our community.

Two individuals died of heat stroke last summer in El Paso County due to hot weather.

According to the El Paso Medical Examiner’s Office, 1 of the 2 deaths involved an elderly woman who did not have air conditioning in her home. She was found to be confused and with an altered mental status. She was flown to UMC where she passed away of heat stroke.

The second death was a 57-year old male, found on unresponsive on the streets of downtown. He fell victim to heat stroke and had a body temperature of 109 degrees when found.

To help save lives, the EWTF stresses use of the “Buddy System.” This simply involves having a trusted relative, friend or neighbor check in daily with an elderly or disabled person during a heat wave. A Buddy encourages an at-risk individual to stay cool by wearing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing, to eat well, drink plenty of fluids and cool their home safely. If there are errands to be done, the Buddy does them, or makes sure they get done.

Those most at-risk for heat stroke include: elderly people with inadequate food, clothing or cooling; babies sleeping in hot bedrooms; children left unattended; adults under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs; mentally ill individuals; people who remain outdoors for long periods (the homeless, hikers, hunters, etc.)

If adequate cooling in unavailable in a home, the EWTF recommends individuals go to one of the designated cool zones in our community. These “cool zones” include public libraries, indoor shopping malls and senior citizen centers.

New fan donations can be dropped off any time at local fire stations. . Corporate and monetary donations are welcome payable to the Local Emergency Planning Committee. The LEPC mailing address is 401 E. Franklin Ave, Suite 350, Attention Grace Ortiz, El Paso, Texas 79901

Those in need of a fan (who meet EWTF criteria) should call 211.

For more information contact: Grace Ortiz at 915-834-5772 or graciela.ortiz@dfps.state.tx.us.


• Drink more fluids (non-alcoholic) regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Warning: If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask him how much you should drink while the weather is hot.
• Don’t drink liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar – these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.
• Stay indoors and, if at all possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library – even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat. Call your local health department to see if there are any heat-relief shelters in your area.
• Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90’s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.
• Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
• NEVER leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle.
• Although any one at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others. Check regularly on:

o Infants and young children
o People aged 65 or older
o People who have a mental illness
o Those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure
• Visit adults at risk at least twice a day and closely watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Infants and young children, of course, need much more frequent watching.


• Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
• Cut down on exercise. If you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, non-alcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. Warning: If you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage. Remember the warning in the first “tip” (above), too.
• Try to rest often in shady areas.
• Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat (also keeps you cooler,) sunglasses and by putting on a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on their labels.)


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