June 5, 2010; Source: CBS-11 | The unexpected spike in temperatures over the weekend in North Texas caused more than sweat. For nonprofits that are expected to deliver fans and provide other ways to help the elderly and disabled avoid the debilitating effects of extreme heat, the triple digit mercury readings caught them off guard. “This is just sooner than anyone expected,” said United Way of Metropolitan Dallas spokesperson Susan Hoff.
Hoff said funding drives to buy fans to be given out during heat waves or to organize other efforts to be ready when temperatures reach life-threatening levels usually don’t start until mid-June or July. However, to avoid a repeat of 1998, when 30 people died of heat-related injuries, nonprofits as well as country agencies, don’t have the luxury of waiting to get started. “I am sure a lot of nonprofits are getting together right now trying to figure out what we are going to do,” Hoff said. “Summer is clearly here.”
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According to Dallas County Health and Human Services director Zach Thompson, since opening its heat hotline June 1, the agency has been logging some 100 calls a day for help. “This is the earliest I have seen in 15 years where we have had to rev up heat emergency activities in Dallas County,” Thompson said. Among its contributions to help people deal with the blistering temperatures, The Salvation Army opened cooling stations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.—Bruce Trachtenberg