Beating heat, pollution to protect community health

SPOKANE, Wash. - Hot temperatures throughout the state are not only tough to handle, in some cases they can be deadly, with senior citizens being especially vulnerable to the heat.

That's why delivering food through the Meals on Wheels program is critical in checking on the health and welfare of seniors in our community. Gerald Hadsell is one of the volunteers who delivers meals; he's been on the road passing out meals for the last 15 years or so.

While he makes sure everyone on his route is fed, this summer he's also is making sure everyone is staying cool.

Heat and pollution health hazards

"This woman was just walking up and down her driveway and she had locked herself out of the house and she was having a heat stroke," Hadsell recalled.

It's been a while since he's seen something like that, but Meals on Wheels volunteers are constantly talking with their people to make sure nobody overheats.

They are also looking for donations and fans to help those who don't have air conditioning; Meals on Wheels is accepting donations along with new or used fans, which you can drop off at 12101 East Sprague Avenue.

Another element to be aware of is the amount of pollution in the air that could make the difference in a person's health.

"The air pollution standards are actually based on the most sensitive population, so the elderly, infants and people with existing heart and lung problems," Lisa Woodard with the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency said.

The Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency said that during hot sunny days levels of bad ozone can build up quickly, but something as simple as not driving as much can help prevent that.

"Looking at public transportation, carpooling, bicycling, walking anything we can do to reduce our car trips, combining errands," Woodard said.

Even postponing small things like mowing the lawn contribute.

"If you could wait until evening or a cooler day that would help," Woodard said.