High Heat Presents Danger for Senior Citizens in Missouri
As a lifelong resident of Missouri, Rita Mae Puckett knows just how hot the summers there can be. “When you’re outside in the summertime, you’re not sure you can get another breath,” she said. And she’s not alone. Miriam Fuller of Missouri also struggles with hydration and overheating during the Missouri summer. “The summers in Missouri are unbelievable,” she laments. During hot weather, heat stress can be caused by your body’s inability to cool down properly. The body normally cools itself by sweating, but under some conditions, sweating just isn’t enough. In such cases, a person’s body temperature rises rapidly, which may damage the brain or other vital organs. People die every year from overheating, and many of them are elderly. Rita Mae and Miriam know that it is important to stay cool in the Missouri summertime, but that can be challenging for seniors with no air conditioning in their homes. Finding a cooling center can be critical in the hot summer months.
The Tracking Program Creates a Single Place to Search for Cooling Centers
The Missouri Tracking Program helps residents like Rita Mae and Miriam. The tracking program created an online map making it easy to find any of nearly 500 cooling centers in the state. Information such as address, telephone number, and hours of operation are readily accessed on the Tracking Network maps. Through collaborations with the Department of Health and Senior Services, United Way, State Emergency Management Agency, and other organizations, the Tracking Program is able to distribute its map to the citizens who need it most.
People Can Find Nearest Cooling Centers
Missouri residents like Rita Mae and Miriam can easily identify the nearest cooling center using the tracking program’s map. Thanks to the Tracking Network, they and thousands of other seniors can locate safe, cool places to go during the summer, especially during extreme heat events. Margaret Donnelly, former director of the Missouri Director of Health and Senior Services, appreciates the map, saying that “we would see a lot more people in the hospital and a lot more death without it.” “Now I always know I can go to a cooling place,” Miriam said. “It has truly benefitted my life.”
Missouri Cooling Centers Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HE4yJYY4WH8
Missouri Cooling Centers Map: http://gis.dhss.mo.gov/Website/coolingCenter/coolingCenter.html