Extreme heat puts elderly in danger

HOUSTON Children and the elderly are the most susceptible to the extreme heat and humidity. Many elderly in our community don't have a way to keep cool in their own homes. That often leads to some major health problems.

If you think it's hot outside, check out the temperature inside Ralph Carter's house. It's almost as unbearable. He and his mother have had very little air conditioning for three days now. The window unit crashed on Monday.

Carter said, "It's cooler here today than it was yesterday by about 10 degrees."

While he's been using fans to try and stay cool, on Wednesday the oppressive heat finally took its toll on a 90-year-old woman whose been staying at the house. Carter found her lying on the couch.

"She was gasping for breath it seems, but she didn't seem conscious," Carter recalled.

His friend suffered heat stroke and had to be rushed to the hospital. Carter bought a portable A/C unit to keep his elderly mother comfortable until the repairman comes.

"It's working out OK," he said. "I'm just sorry I didn't do it. I should have taken those precautions sooner."

EMS workers have been busy in recent weeks as heat-related emergency calls have spiked. There were 70 in the first two weeks of June compared to just 12 in the first two weeks of May. Those who have questions or concerns about their A/C can call 211 for assistance.

Carter said, "The police department was by here this morning and they gave me a card and they told me I should contact the substation if I needed any help."

Several Channel 13 viewers who saw the story called and emailed us to see how they could help. A local couple has offered to buy and install a new window unit today. Together with the owners of an A/C repair company, they got the job done. Carter is overwhelmed and grateful for the support.

We should mention that during extreme heat emergencies, the city's office of emergency management would be activated and arrangements would be made through METRO to transport the elderly or anyone else to cooling centers.

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