Thursday, July 8, 2010
This summer’s scorching heat is putting a strain on communities far and wide. New York, New Jersey, and parts of Washington, DC went into blackout this week as utility companies struggle to keep up with energy demand, and some residents remain without power. Even zoos and wildlife centers are taking extra cautious care of their animals during this time – it’s reported that sick seals in New Jersey had to be cared for with tubs filled with ice cubes! And tragically, the heat wave has already claimed the lives of several people.
As sweltering temperatures reach record levels, people across the country are searching for ways to escape the oppressive weather. During this time of need The Salvation Army is actively helping afflicted communities beat the heat and protect against the dangers of the hot spell.
In many areas facing the most extreme temperatures, The Salvation Army has opened “cooling stations” to provide refuge for the homeless, low income individuals, and others who don’t have functional cooling units at home. With temperatures reaching the triple digits along the east coast, The Salvation Army of Greater New York is helping provide shelter, supplies and assistance as the state opens doors to 480 cooling facilities! Local Salvation Army units in Massachusetts, Texas, Michigan and several states in between have also reported opening emergency cooling stations. While shelters provide vulnerable individuals and families with rest, cold water, recreational opportunities, and even relief from driving up their own utility costs at home, Salvation Army cooling stations also provide an escape from life-threatening circumstances. A Pennsylvania resident named Lisy, a diabetic, said she and her 3 grandchildren sought refuge at The Salvation Army so that her medical condition would not put her and her family at risk as a result of the overbearing heat inside her residence.
The Salvation Army is also collecting and distributing water to keep people hydrated. In Tucson, Arizona, The Salvation Army is partnering with local business Naughton’s for “Operation Chill-Out,” a city-wide drive during the summer months to collect bottled water for the homeless, as well as items like sunscreen and lip balm. One generous donation in Kansas City enabled The Salvation Army to distribute more than 200 bottles of water around the city, offering much needed relief to citizens on an ‘Ozone Alert Day.’
Even fans and air conditioning units are being distributed to those in need in what some Salvation Army community centers are calling their ‘Beat the Heat’ campaign. With the help of the local Wal-Mart, The Salvation Army in Knoxville is providing box fans and AC units, as well as helping pay electric bills, for those most vulnerable to the heat, and The Salvation Army in Oklahoma City has partnered with local energy company OG&E for their own drive. The Salvation Army in Cleveland is also in the midst of collecting fans, A/C units, and monetary donations to provide relief to members of their community.
If you would like to help us provide for others during these very hot months, or if summer’s boiling temperatures have left you in need, contact your local Salvation Army or search our website at www.salvationarmyusa.org for one nearest you.
And while you probably are already aware of these common sense tips, we’re going to say it anyway: Help yourself stay cool by wearing light colors and shade such as hats or sunglasses, drink lots of water, and avoid too much outdoor activity when possible. Also, help others stay safe by checking up on elderly or ill family, neighbors, and friends!
In the meantime, we’ll be crossing our fingers for a cold spell soon!