A cooling breeze on a stifling summer day is welcome relief when Ohio ventures into the Arizona heat spectrum, but without an air conditioner or something as simple as a fan, it can become downright deadly.
Keeping people cool, to whom many consider a fan a luxury, is the goal of a LifeCare Alliance program supported by Jackson Township. Donated fans are collected at a trio of township fire stations and then distributed by the support agency to the needy.
Jenny Thomas, administrative secretary for Jackson Township, said they have participated in the Beat the Heat Campaign for four years and anyone who would like to donate a fan is welcome to drop them off at any of the three stations located at 3650 Hoover Rd., 4343 Grove City Rd., or 2650 London-Groveport Rd.
"We easily take in 40 to 60 fans each summer," commented Thomas. "We have some regular donators who bring in at least a couple every year. It’s something they plan on doing and it helps people who can’t afford to buy a fan.
"It’s a great program and anyone needing a fan can call LifeCare Alliance at 278-3130."
LifeCare Alliance Community Relations Coordinator Maria Washington said this is the ninth year the agency has sponsored the campaign in partnership with a local television station. She said volunteers pick up fans from local collection points, such as the Jackson Township firehouses, and then distribute them to people who either call in, are identified by workers delivering Meals on Wheels, or walk in to LifeCare Alliance.
Beat the Heat is primarily geared for older residents ages 65 and above or those chronically ill, although Washington stressed there are always special circumstances they take under consideration. The campaign kicked off in mid-June and runs through August.
"We usually collect over 400 fans," remarked Washington, who emphasized the giveaway is not just for LifeCare Alliance clients, but for anyone in need of a fan. "A lot of times older adults will suffer from heat stroke or heat exhaustion and our drivers for Meals on Wheels are trained to look for things like that."
The list of possible heat-related symptoms include: weakness/listlessness; throbbing headache; dizziness; nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea; beyond sweating to skin just hot and dry; rapid heart beat; confusion; or stomach/muscle cramps.
"People can let us know if their neighbor could use a fan, but can’t afford to buy one. We distribute a lot of fans by word of mouth and people just knowing about the program. Even if they received one last year, sometimes things break, they can still get another one this year," Washington said.
In addition to the free fan giveaway conducted by LifeCare Alliance, the Ohio Department of Development administers the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) Summer Crisis Program, which assists households by making a one-time payment of up to $175 for an electric bill or toward the purchase of an air conditioner.
To participate in the program, household income levels must be at or below 175 percent of federal poverty guidelines and meet other qualifications including: a resident must be 60 or older or a member of the household must have a documented medical condition aggravated by the heat.
"The Summer Crisis Program is an essential tool for ensuring that our state’s most vulnerable residents receive cooling assistance when the temperatures are extreme," said Lt. Governor Lee Fisher during the program’s kick-off in June. "Through the State’s partnerships with community action agencies across Ohio, we are ready to assist eligible residents with applications and questions."
Consumers must apply in person at a local community action agency now through Aug. 31 and it is recommended to make an appointment. For more information on the Summer Crisis Program, call the development department at 1-800-282-0880, or contact the Office of the Ohio Consumer’s Counsel toll free at 1-877-742-5622, which can provide information on other assistance programs.