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MAHONING COUNTY Check on elderly, EMA says



Published: Tue, August 7, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The idea is the same in summer as it is in winter.

By BOB JACKSON

VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- This is no time for people to be fair-weather friends, a Mahoning County official says.

When the weather turns stifling hot, as it has been in recent weeks, people need to take time to make sure their neighbors are safe and sound.

That's the idea behind the Check On A Friend campaign, sponsored by the county Emergency Management Agency. Residents are encouraged to keep an eye on people who live near them, especially the elderly.

"It's a quality of life program," said Walter Duzzny, EMA director. "It's a humanitarian thing to do."

Residents can also look outside their neighborhood and check on someone they know from church, work or a social organization who lives alone, Duzzny said.

Extreme weather: The program is year-round, though Duzzny and his staff tout it especially heavily during periods of extreme weather, both hot and cold.

Many people don't realize that extreme heat can be just as devastating as a winter deep-freeze, Duzzny said.

"The heat just sneaks up on you. You sit there sweating and before you know it you're dehydrated and you don't even know it," he said.

The elderly are especially vulnerable because they'll often close their window blinds and cut back on their air conditioning to save money.

"Those are the ones where you need to just stop by once in a while and see how they are doing," Duzzny said.

Watch the kids: Children are also at risk of sickness from heat exposure because they are often reluctant to take a break from outdoor activity so they can get a drink of water. Parents must monitor their children and make sure they're getting enough fluids.

Children and senior citizens also should not be left unattended in parked vehicles, Duzzny said. It doesn't take long for intense heat to build up inside the car and overcome the occupant.

"If we all just use a healthy dose of common sense and lots of water, we'll get through this," Duzzny said.

bjackson@vindy.com




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