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Meals On Wheels Provides More Than Food During Brutal Summer Heat

By Joel Thomas CBS 11 News | CBSDFW.COM
(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Joel Thomas
Joel is an Emmy Award winning journalist with more than 15 year...
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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Volunteers at Tarrant County Meals on Wheels say they see the same scene play itself out almost every summer:  an elderly person suffering through unimaginable heat in their home and yet they don’t think they need an air conditioner or they won’t ask for help out of pride.

The Daye family in Dallas lived through a situation like that.

“Saturday when I came in it was super hot in here I thought my mother had had a stroke,” said Karen Daye about a visit to her mother’s house.  “I thought we were going to have to take her to the hospital. Her shirt was wet and everything.  With her being 87 we had to cool her off fast because she had a heat stroke once before.”

But Karen’s 87 year old mother is like many elderly people who think they’re unaffected by the heat — even though its over 90 degrees inside her home.

“Oh, hell!” Ruby Lee Daye scoffed when asked about the heat.  “I don’t pay no attention. Look here, I was born and raised out in east Texas in the cotton fields.

Volunteers at Meals on Wheels say they’ve seen cases even more severe than Daye’s.

“One of the AC’s we installed during the summer, when I walked into the client’s home it was 110 degrees in her home,” said Denise Harris, a spokesperson for Meals on Wheels in Fort Worth.

Tarrant County Meals on Wheels has already helped more than 60 people cool their homes by providing air conditioners or paying the electric bills to keep air conditioners running.

They’re also training their volunteers to look for the warning signs of heat exhaustion — warning signs you should know too.

Heat exhaustion will make people exceptionally weak.  Their face will often be pale, cool and moist — almost clammy.  They may have shallow breathing.  And even though heat may be adversely affecting someone, their actual body temperature will be lower than normal.

Daye was lucky her daughter checked on her and called to have an air conditioner installed.

One Fort Worth woman was just as lucky when a meals on wheels volunteer stopped to check on her and noticed something was wrong.

“When a volunteer was delivering a meal he noticed she was lethargic,” Harris said. “We went out there, dialed 911 and rushed her to the hospital where they found out she was actually dehydrated.”

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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