2013-07-15


County Announces Extended Hours at Six Senior Centers, Urges Special Precautions for Certain Groups Due to Forecasted Heat & Humidity

PITTSBURGH – The Allegheny County Department of Human Services Area Agency on Aging (AAA) announces that the following six senior centers will be open extended hours to provide refuge from the heat and humidity:

Center 

Location 

Telephone 

Hours 

Catholic Youth Assoc. Stephen Foster Community Center

286 Main Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15201

412-621-3342

July 16
7:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.

Greenfield Healthy Active Aging Center

745 Greenfield Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15217

412-244-6551

July 15 & 16
8:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.

Homewood Healthy Active Aging Center

7321 Frankstown Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15208

412-244-4190

July 15 & 16
8:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.

Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh

5738 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15217

412-521-8010

July 15 & 16
8:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.

South Side Market House Healthy Active Aging Center

S. 12th & Bingham Streets
Pittsburgh, PA 15203

412-488-8404

July 15 & 16
8:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.

Sheraden Healthy Active Aging Center 

720 Sherwood Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15204

412-777-5012

July 15 & 16
8:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.

All county residents ages 60 and older are also welcome to visit any of the county-funded senior centers during regular hours of operation to socialize and enjoy activities while taking refuge from the heat. For a list of all Allegheny County senior centers, visit www.alleghenycounty.us/dhs/seniorcenters.aspx.  

AAA also encourages everyone to be particularly mindful of seniors as the temperature rises. The agency and its contracted providers will maintain contact with frail, isolated and high-risk seniors who are registered for care management with AAA. Care managers will respond to emergency needs as they arise, making sure that seniors are safe and stable.  

However, not all seniors are registered for care management with AAA. Therefore, neighbors, friends and relatives are asked to check on seniors during periods of high temperatures. The following tips are offered for those who plan to visit seniors: 

  • Offer a glass of water or a non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverage. Sit with them as they drink it. If plain water is boring, try one of the no-calorie fruit flavored waters.
  • Check for breathing difficulty or other signs of distress, such as swelling of the ankles or disorientation. Seek medical attention if needed, or call a medical professional for advice.
  • Check to see that window air conditioning units are operating and in good condition. If there is no air conditioning, make sure there is good cross-ventilation aided by fans.
  • Check that they are eating. If they are not due to lack of appetite, try offering light protein-laden foods, such as fully cooked eggs, cottage cheese or lentils. 

If seniors resist visits, encourage them to agree to a few phone calls each day, but pay attention to whether they sound alert, and if they can tell you which medicines they have taken. If they are willing, invite them to stay with you for a few days until the difficult weather passes. 

More tips for keeping cool are located on the Allegheny County Department of Human Services website at www.alleghenycounty.us/dhs/cooling-tips.aspx

Health Department Urges Special Precautions for Certain Risk Groups 

The Allegheny County Health Department is warning that the heat and humidity forecasted for the next few days may pose serious health problems for the elderly, infants and children up to the age of four, as well as the overweight, people who work or exercise outdoors, and people with heart or respiratory problems.

 Heat-related illness occurs when the body’s temperature control system is overloaded. The body normally cools itself by sweating. However, sometimes this cooling mechanism breaks down, and body temperature rises rapidly, triggering heat exhaustion or heat stroke. 

Heat exhaustion is the body’s response to an excessive loss of water and salt due to sweating. Warning signs include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, fatigue, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting and fainting. If symptoms are severe, or the person has heart problems or high blood pressure, seek medical attention immediately. Otherwise, help the person cool off. Seek medical attention if the symptoms worsen or last longer than one hour.           

Heat stroke, a more serious and potentially life-threatening condition, occurs when the body is unable to control its temperature, and the sweating mechanism fails. Warning signs may include: extremely high body temperature (above 103° F); red, hot and dry skin, due to no sweating; rapid, strong pulse; throbbing headache; dizziness; nausea, confusion; and unconsciousness. Death or permanent disability may result without emergency treatment. Cool the victim rapidly by any means available until paramedics arrive. 

Additionally, the following precautions are recommended to minimize the risk of heat-related illness: 

  • Stay cool indoors, preferably in an air-conditioned environment. Fans do not help much when temperatures are in the 90s. A cool bath or shower is a more effective way to cool off if you do not have air conditioning. Better yet, visit a place that has air conditioning, such as a senior center, theater, mall or neighbor’s house.
  • Drink plenty of fluids – at least eight cups a day - but not alcoholic or caffeinated drinks, which actually cause the body to lose more fluids. Avoid hot foods and heavy meals, which add heat to your body.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing. A wide-brimmed hat provides shade and helps keep the head cool. Sunscreen can prevent sunburn, which can affect your body’s ability to cool itself and also cause a loss of fluids.
  • Avoid strenuous physical activity, particularly during the hotter part of the day.
  • Never leave a child, or a pet, in a vehicle alone on a hot day. A child may become disoriented in just five minutes, unconscious in 10 minutes, and brain-damaged in 20 minutes.
  • Use the buddy system and check on the elderly and the infirm who do not have air conditioning and are less able to take care of themselves. 

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention have additional extreme heat safety tips and information at www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat.  

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