Corbin H. Crable
I hate the fact that I even have to write this column.
Kansas City, like much of the rest of the nation, is squirming in the grip of a stifling heat wave, and there are far too many of the sick, elderly and economically disadvantaged who are suffering in silence.
When the first signs of a hot summer came about, perhaps those folks, at first, were content with a single window unit in their homes. Maybe a box fan here and there would suffice.
We all know someone who would dismiss their suffering in favor of saving face. But you and I know better, don’t we?
Sure, it’s hot, they’ll say, but they’ve fell on worse times than these and made it through.
What they don’t want to tell you, of course, is that they simply can’t afford to keep their home cool, plain and simple. That’s the way it is.
I’m calling bull on that one. Both the Kansas City metro area and Gardner specifically have plans in place to address such issues. There is absolutely no excuse for allowing our elderly and our sick to succumb to heat-related health issues or even death.
If you know someone who is living this summer without air conditioning, please point them to any one of the following options to keep cool – and do your part to ensure they follow up with your own suggestions.
• Project Elder Cool: Specifically geared toward the elderly, this program is a joint effort between the Bishop Sullivan Center and Fox 4 News. It provides free window units to elderly residents of the KC metro area; according to the Fox 4 website, the program has been going strong for more than a decade and has installed more than 350 window units in area homes. Those who wish to donate to the program will be pleased to know that A.B. May will match your donation toward the purchase of window units.
• Visit either the Edgerton Public Library or the Gardner Public Library, which act as designated cooling centers when temperatures rise to dangerous levels.
• Call the Gardner Multi-Service Center (856-7405) if you are having difficulty paying your utility bills in order to keep your home cool. The center will provide assistance to individuals based on a variety of factors, including income level. Call the center to apply for assistance if you know you will have difficulty paying to keep your home air-conditioned this summer.
Perhaps most importantly, if you are someone who is able to provide assistance to an elderly family member or friend, please check up on them on a regular basis to ensure their good health as the temperatures climb. And if you are someone in need of assistance, please do a favor to your friends and family – and yourself – and shelve your pride. Seek help if you need it. Heat-related deaths are obviously preventable with a bit of planning and communication. The community — of which you have been a member for so long — is here to help you. Please accept that help, and do it now, before you face the real possibility of becoming another statistic on the evening news.