In record-breaking summer heat, tips to stay safe and pay utility bill
As temperatures continue to rise, it is important to do everything you can to avoid exposing loved ones, people and pets, to the scorching heat. From always locking your car when you are not using it to not leaving pets or people in your vehicle, here are some easy ways to keep everyone safe while having fun at the same time.
As Missouri closes the books on a record hot May, the National Weather Service, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the Department of Public Safety are promoting Missouri Summer Safety Week (June 18-24) to highlight the risks and dangers associated with excessive heat.
Here’s what you need to know to stay cool and safe in the Ozarks:
Need help with utilities?
Especially this time of year when it’s nice to have the air conditioning running, many folks struggle to pay the utility bills.
If you have received a notice from the utility company or your utilities have already been shut off due to an overdue bill, contact Ozarks Area Community Action Corporation and ask about the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
Tommy Trammel, director of the program, explained that there is a summer utility assistance program that runs from June 1 to Sept. 30.
Trammel said LIHEAP doesn’t help with current bills — just the amount that would cause a termination of services.
Also, LIHEAP can only help with the fuel type portion of the bill (not the water, sewer or trash charges).
“We negotiate with utility vendors to keep people on or get them back on with services,” she explained. “It is based on income and household size. I always tell people to apply for the program and let us do the work.”
To apply, call 417-864-3460.
About the free fan program
Heat waves are no joke. Keep safe and healthy with these tips.
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The Salvation Army is giving away box fans while supplies last to those who qualify.
To qualify, households must not have an air conditioner and have someone in the home who is either age 60 or older, disabled, or a child under the age of 5.
Also, if a household received a fan during the last summer season, they may not receive one at this time.
As of June 4, there were about 50 fans left, but the Salvation Army does accept donations of new fans.
The new fans can be brought to the main office at 1707 W. Chestnut Expressway.
Call the Salvation Army’s Emergency Social Services at 417-862-5509, ext. 108 to find out if there are fans available.
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Emergency Social Services hours are 9:30 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m. Mondays and Fridays; 9:30 a.m.-noon on Tuesdays; 1-3 p.m. on Thursdays. The office is closed on Wednesdays for food pantry services.
Westlake Ace Hardware is hosting a fan drive through June 24 at all Westlake locations. For a $5 donation, one “fan blade” can be given, $10 provides two blades, $15 for three blades or $20 covers the entire fan. Any donation amount will be accepted.
Westlake Ace Hardware is kicking off the fan drive with a donation of 30 box fans.
To donate to the fan drive online visit westlakehardware.com/fandrive.
Find a cooling center
The Department of Health and Senior Services has a map online of the cooling center sites in Missouri. When you click on one of the “red push pins,” the address, phone number and days/hours open are shown on the screen.
DHSS updates this map as it receives new sites or corrections. Find the map at ogi.oa.mo.gov/DHSS/coolingCenter/ or visit MO.gov.
Cooling centers in Springfield include all branches of the Springfield-Greene County Library District, Ozarks Technical Community College, the Pat Jones YMCA and the Northview Center.
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According to the Department of Health and Senior Services, there were 19 heat-related deaths in Missouri last year.
Based on last month’s steamy temperatures, this summer is quickly shaping up to be even hotter and more dangerous than 2017.
“Summer heat and humidity have come early this year and they are already posing health risks, reminding all of us to watch out not only for ourselves, but for the young, elderly and people with pre-existing health issues,” Department of Public Safety Director Drew Juden said in a news release. “Never leave a child or a pet alone in a car because the temperature can rise by 20 degrees in 10 minutes and 30 degrees in 20 minutes; remember to check on the elderly who may not have air conditioning; and all of us should limit our exposure to the sun.”
Remember these basic tips to protect you and your family during severe heat and heat emergencies:
- Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone;
- Look Before You Lock — never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
- Eat light, well-balanced meals at regular intervals;
- Drink plenty of water and limit intake of alcoholic beverages. Make sure your pet has fresh water and access to shade;
- Wear loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible;
- Protect your face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat. Wear sunscreen 30 SPF or greater;
- Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Use the buddy system when working in extreme heat and take frequent breaks;
- If you do not have air conditioning, consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theaters, shopping malls and other community facilities;
- Be aware of medications that may impair the body’s response to heat, including antihistamines, tranquilizers and some medications for heart disease;
Summers in Missouri are also a time of heightened thunderstorm activity. Keep these additional safety tips in mind when a storm threatens:
- There is no safe place outside in a thunderstorm. Get inside if you can and stay away from windows, door, and metal pipes, including in a shower or bathtub; do not use electric appliances or landline telephones during the storm;
- Avoid open fields, and the tops of hills or ridges. Remember, lightning can strike up to 10 miles from the rain area;
- Stay away from water, wet items (such as ropes) and metal objects. Water and metal are excellent conductors of electricity;
- Stay away from tall, isolated trees or other tall objects;
- Remember, a tent offers no protection from lightning.
The National Weather Service has additional information on staying safe during excessive heat, as well as lightning safety, at weather.gov/sgf/summersafety.
More about vehicle safety
According to the National Safety Council, nine children in the United States have died in 2018 so far because of being left in a hot car.
The National Weather Service offers these basic safety tips:
- Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, not even for a minute;
- If you see a child unattended in a hot vehicle, call 911 immediately. Stay with the child until help arrives;
- If a child is missing, always check a swimming pool first, if one is nearby, and then the car, including the trunk;
- Be sure that all occupants leave the vehicle after arriving. Don’t overlook sleeping babies;
- Always lock your car and ensure that children do not have access to keys or remote entry devices;
- Teach your children that vehicles are never to be used as a play area;
- Keep a stuffed animal in the car seat. When the child is put in the seat, place the animal in the front with the driver as a reminder;
- Or place your purse or briefcase in the back seat as a reminder that you have a child in the car;
- Make “look before you leave” a routine whenever you get out of the car;
- Ensure that your child’s school and/or child care provider will call you if your child does not show up for school.
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