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Rising temperatures lead to higher risk of heat illness
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Experts say air conditioner can help keep homes at safe temperatures.
Flickr: Sweety Reddy

Experts are urging Mississippians to take precautions to avoid heat illness this summer. As MPB's Alexis Ware reports, the risks are greater for the elderly.

Summer temperatures are rising and for some, so is the risk of suffering heat illness. Mara Hartmann is a spokesperson for Entergy Mississippi. She says setting thermostats at 78 degrees should keep homes cool without increasing the price of your electric bill. Still, with the increased power usage affordability may be difficult for some elderly people. 

In addition to company specific bill assistance programs, there is a federal program to help Mississippians meet the costs for electricity. Spokesperson Mara Hartmann 

"The beauty of this program is it can help a variety of people you don't just have to be elderly or disabled or low income if you're having trouble paying it and you qualify then you can get assistance through LIHEAP." 

40 percent of heat deaths are people 65 and older according to a study by University of Chicago Medical Center.

Jim Pollard is with American Medical Response. He says chronic medical conditions and medications can contribute to the heat dangers for older people. 
He says it's important for family and neighbors to monitor elderly people closest to them. 

"Go to that house if you can where the older person lives and kind of asses the temperature of inside the house yourself and if you're not comfortable remember that elders are more like to be victims of heat exhaustion and then heat stroke because their bodies don't respond the same way. They don't respond as efficiently to high heat as younger people. And, if you do sense that the elderly person may be in an environment that's too warm, get them out of there." 

Pollard says it's important for elderly people to stay hydrated and avoid being outdoors during midday hours.