With century-topping temperatures blanketing the county throughout the summer, Warren County Health Department Administrator Ruth Walters says she’s worried about how many local residents might be living without air conditioning.
But a new program, hopefully, will lead to a drop in the number of people living in sweltering conditions and instead keep them cool, Walters said.
Local emergency services agencies have teamed up and formed the “Beat the Heat” program, which is designed to supply air-conditioning units to residents who may not otherwise be able to afford them.
Walters said the program will fill a need for many, including elderly residents who refrain from purchasing an air-conditioning unit or operating it due to the expense.
“There is more (need) than what we really know,” Walters said. “A lot of the folks don’t want to pay for electric. Their finances are minimal. I do think there is a huge need.”
Since this is the first time the program has been attempted by the agencies, Walters is encouraging residents, businesses and organizations to be a partner and help out. New or slightly used air-conditioning units can be dropped off at any local emergency services agency, such as fire, police or ambulance.
Monetary donations also will be accepted to be used to purchase cooling units on an as needed basis, according to Walters.
Walters said the health department has been fielding phone calls from residents and other local agencies asking if air-conditioning units are available throughout the summer. As the call volume increased, she and other local emergency service agencies decided to combine their efforts to combat the need.
In a short time the response has been positive. Walters said three cooling units have already been distributed and a waiting list has been created to assist others. St. John’s Lutheran Church in Warrenton also held a special offering and donated more than $300.
“We have the means to pick it up and install it,” she said. “It’s everyone working together. It’s working out so far.”
The air-conditioning units or monetary donations can be dropped at any local police or fire department or ambulance base. Checks payable to Beat the Heat program can be mailed to the Warrenton Fire Protection District headquarters at 606 Fairgrounds Road, Warrenton, MO 63383.
For more information, contact the health department at 636-456-7474.