Of widows and air conditioning

The sweltering temperatures prompted Clark County councilors to discuss heat safety during this week’s board of health meeting.

The conversation started out innocent enough.

Councilor Jeanne Stewart was curious what role Clark County Public Health would play in promoting hot-weather safety during the heat wave.

Dr. Alan Melnick, the department director and county health officer, told the board that health officials were preparing a news release that would offer tips for beating the heat and list cooling center locations.

Stewart was pleased with the news. She was worried about the prolonged and pronounced nature of this heat wave. She was particularly concerned about older people and disabled people. A good reminder to check on your neighbors, she said.

Councilor Tom Mielke agreed. He wanted to make sure people remembered to check on seniors who live alone.

“Whether you know them or not, if you know they’re there, go knock on the door and check on them,” he said.

Great public service announcement, Councilor Mielke.

But then the discussion took an interesting turn.

The mention of checking on neighbors reminded Councilor David Madore of his longtime neighbor and friend.

This neighbor was going to be gone and asked Madore to put her trash out for her.

He did, but, while doing so, noticed that she still had vent plugs in the crawlspace of her home.

Why would those still be in, he wondered. Ah, that’s right, her husband died a few years ago.

“If you’re aware of widows or seniors and the person who normally did the things around the house, they’re not there, that’s another good reason to take a look, make sure they’re OK,” Madore said.

This would be a good time to point out that Madore sits next to Stewart, whose husband died unexpectedly in August.

With the hot weather, Madore said, it’s a good time to check in and make sure their air conditioning is working and they’re comfortable.

“Especially if the man of the home is no longer there to do what he once did,” Madore added.

I could think of only one reaction to Madore’s comments.


Marissa Harshman

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at marissa.harshman@columbian.com or 360-735-4546.

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