Stay safe in the heat

Published 6:27 am Friday, July 8, 2016

As I write this, our region is in the grip of an active heat advisory with the heat index well up into the triple digits.

For those of us with office jobs, the heat wave matters hardly at all. We spend our days inside. We drive home in an air-conditioned vehicle and we spend our evenings in an air-conditioned home.

However, it’s worth remembering our friends and neighbors who may not be so lucky. Our pets, children and the elderly in our community may all need special assistance during the hottest days of summer.

The neediest elderly in the state — those making 60 percent under the state’s median income — should be qualified for Louisiana’s Low Income Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP. The federally funded program can help senior citizens pay for the cost of energy, and that could mean a cooler, more livable home. Anyone interested can call 888-454-2001 for more information.

In addition, seniors who want to get out of the house and into a cooler area for the day can always visit our local libraries. In Bogalusa, lunch is served at the ESM Memorial Methodist Church each weekday afternoon, courtesy of the Washington Parish Council on Aging. Getting out of a warm house during the hottest part of the day and socializing can improve mental health and it can help keep energy bills lower.

Also, if you live near an older person, even someone who doesn’t necessarily need any help paying the bills, please take a minute to check on them or surprise them by cutting their grass or doing something else that could save them a heatstroke. If you don’t know your neighbor, this season is a great way to form a friendship that could make the neighborhood stronger and be mutually beneficial.

Pets, too, need extra attention. If your pet is outside all day, make sure they have an outside source of water and a shady spot to relax in. If you have a furry dog, consider getting your dog clipped or buying a small plastic child’s pool for your pet. It should go without saying that during the summer you should never leave your pet parked in a hot car even for a minute.

Finally, take a minute to remember the kids. Just because it’s hot doesn’t mean kids should get a pass on outdoor activities. However, before you send the kids outdoors, send them off with a bottle of water and keep lots of healthy snacks on hand. Washington Parish is known for its watermelons, and keeping a bowl of watermelon slices on hand helps local growers, but it also helps kids eat fruit that’s got loads of water and energy.

Finally, the heat wave will mean dry grass and leaves. If you’re burning anything in your yard, please have a water hose nearby or a bucket of water. Wherever you are, it’s probably hot enough as it is without a grassfire.

Stay safe, stay hydrated and remember your family and community.

Jesse Wright is the managing editor for The Daily News. You can email him at or call him at 985-732-2565, ext. 301.