The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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June 25, 2012

Cooling centers open as temperatures climb

JOPLIN, Mo. — With diabetes and a heart condition, Patrick Jacks said he tries not to get overheated.

But the 58-year-old homeless man said he did get too hot while walking along Maiden Lane to Seventh Street on Sunday.

“I kept drinking water, and it wasn’t helping; I couldn’t stop sweating, and I started to hyperventilate,” Jacks said.

He said be bought two bags of ice and carried them on his back for about 1.5 miles to a campsite.

“Then I put one bag on top of my sleeping bag and laid down on it, and I held the other one on my chest until I got my temperature down,” he said.

Jacks said he was feeling better as he cooled off Monday afternoon in the lobby of the Joplin Salvation Army’s center.

The building, at Eighth Street and Kentucky Avenue, is one of several places where residents can go if they don’t have air conditioning or need to get out of the heat.

“Absolutely, anybody who needs to get out of the heat can come here,” said Lt. James Curry. “We’ll have cool water for them.”

Jesica Montenelli said she also was glad for a relatively cool place. She was waiting to talk to someone at the Salvation Army about some help with housing after her house burned a week ago.

“It’s getting pretty hot out there,” she said.

The Salvation Army will be open as a cooling station from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Curry said. If a heat advisory is issued, hours will be extended until 8 p.m.

The Red Cross office at 410 S. Jackson Ave. will be open as a cooling center from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., according to Patricia Robinson, with the organization.

Seniors also may go to any nutrition center operated by the Area Agency on Aging. In addition to a place to chill, they can get a meal for a donation of $3.

“It’s a good place for them to hang out if they don’t have AC,” said Allison Riddle, community services director for the agency that serves seniors in four counties in the region.

“All of the centers have different activities, and they can get lunch,” she said.

Hours are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Joplin Senior Center, 2202 S. Jackson Ave.; The Center, 303 N. Main St., Carl Junction; the Can-Do Senior Center, 404 E. Third St., Carthage; the Webb City Senior Center, 210 N. Pennsylvania Ave.; the McDonald County Senior Center, 624 Johnson Drive, Noel; and the Barton County Senior Center, 306 W. 11th St., Lamar.

An advisory from the Southern Missouri Region of the American Red Cross urges precautions against the heat when the temperature approaches triple digits.

Everyone is at risk, especially the elderly and the very young. Signs of heat-related illness include nausea, dizziness, flushed or pale skin, heavy sweating and headaches.

People with heat-related illness should be moved to a cool place and given cool water to drink, and ice packs or cool, wet clothes should be applied to the skin. Emergency help should be sought if a victim refuses water, vomits or loses consciousness.

Red Cross officials said area residents should wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing, stay hydrated, eat small meals, stay indoors if possible, and check on friends and family members, especially those who do not have air conditioning.

They also should make sure their pets have water and are not suffering from the heat.

Deaths

ABOUT 400 AMERICANS die each year because of heat in the summertime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In recent years, excessive heat has caused more deaths than all other weather events, including tornadoes, floods and hurricanes.

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