HERE'S a message to remember for the next several weeks. Seniors and their friends and relatives should take note of what the Prince George's Journal had to say, editorially, on July 19:
"If the weatherman predicts a blizzard, we take it seriously. We stock up on food and water. We stay inside. Ditto for hurricane and tornado warnings. But for some reason, people don't heed warnings about extreme heat. Or at least they didn't. Perhaps the tragedy in Chicago will change that. If so, it's the one good thing that can come of it.
"Officials say the death toll in Chicago may reach 300. Death toll. It's a phrase usually reserved for casualties of war. Crash victims. Even natural disaster victims. But not victims of heat.
"Who were these people who died? Many were elderly Chicago residents who thought they could handle the heat on their own. Others were just horribly alone. Some were seniors who did have people who checked on them regularly but they still succumbed to the heat.
"If you have elderly or infirm family members, neighbors or friends, check on them when the weather is hot. If they don't have air conditioning, take them somewhere cool.
"If they refuse to go, check on them often, make sure they have fans and that they drink lots of cool liquids. When it's hot, people perspire, so it's important to replenish those lost fluids . . .
"Donna Crocker, director of the [Prince George's] department of family services, says her office also offers a plethora of information to seniors. Brochures are available at the senior pTC center and nutrition sites, where staff also talks to seniors about curbing activities when it's hot, drinking liquids, wearing cool clothing and keeping the house cool even when they don't have air conditioning. Seniors without air conditioners may want to consider going to senior centers on hot days. Transportation is generally provided.
"We're glad so many wonderful resources are available to our seniors. However, the most important thing we can do to protect them is to reach out to them -- and not just when it's hot but all year long."