Photo courtesy EWTF/EPFD – Facebook
With the arrival of hot summer temperatures, the Extreme Weather Task Force (EWTF) continues to ask for fan donations and educate the El Paso community on hot weather safety.
“Because of COVID–19 precautions, we will not hold our usual kickoff news conference,” said Grace Ortiz, APS Community Engagement Specialist and EWTF Chair. “But, we want people to know the EWTF is actively working on providing fans to the most vulnerable in our community who have no air conditioning in their homes.”
Since 2004, the Extreme Weather Task Force (EWTF) has collected and delivered more than 10,000 free electric box fans to qualifying elderly and needy families in our community.
“Currently, we have only 153 fans in our inventory,” said Ortiz.
New fan donations can be dropped off any time at local fire stations. Those in need of a fan who meet EWTF criteria should call 2–1–1.
Distribution of fans will be managed differently due to COVID-19. The EWTF will have a designated pick up point and a corresponding license plate number is required to ensure the correct person picking the fan.
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.
Due to COVID–19, remember to practice social distancing to protect elderly. “We can be a Buddy by calling them on the phone,” said Ortiz.
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.)
Corporate and monetary donations are welcome payable to the APS Silver Star Board. The APS Silver Star Board mailing address is 401 E. Franklin Ave, Suite 350, Attention Grace Ortiz, and El Paso, Texas 79901
TIPS FOR PREVENTING HEAT-RELATED ILLNESS
- 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 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 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:
- Infants and young children
- People aged 65 or older
- People who have a mental illness
- 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.
IF YOU MUST BE OUT IN THE HEAT:
- 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.
- Try to rest often in shady areas.
- Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, 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.