High heat hurting low-income families, agency asks for donations - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

High heat hurting low-income families, Dubuque agency asks for fan donations

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

Facing a potentially dangerous combination of high temperatures and humidity Monday morning, the city of Dubuque issued its fourth heat advisory of the summer.

The advisory extends through Tuesday and offers the public two cooling centers, where people can enjoy the air condition for free. Those are at the Carnegie-Stout Public Library, which is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday and the Multicultural Family Center, which is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

While many people are able to go from an air-conditioned home to an air-conditioned car to an air-conditioned workplace, there are many others for whom the heat is more than just an uncomfortable inconvenience.

For low-income families with limited or no air-conditioning, extreme heat poses a health hazard.

On these hot and muggy summer days and nights, it's too hot for Dubuque woman Tammy Lynch to sleep upstairs.

"You can't stand it. Nope," Lynch said, sitting in her living room Monday afternoon. "You can't breathe."

That's why, on oppressively hot nights, Lynch and her 13-year-old daughter Megan sleep downstairs, running just one of the family's two air conditioning units in their duplex.

"I have to put off some bills and stuff to keep my air conditioner running," Lynch said.

She said paying the bills is a struggle, especially when keeping cool means paying more.

"Last month, when we were running the air conditioners almost every day, my light bill was $250," she said.

Lynch got the fan that also cools her living room from Operation New View, Dubuque's Community Action Agency, which gave away more than 300 fans this summer and is now out of them.

Mary Billmeyer is fuel outreach assistant with Operation New View and works with low-income families.

"It's just terrible out there," she said, of the heat. "It's sad. You could either eat or have air conditioning or maybe pay for medicine or have air conditioning. We hear that a lot: 'I can't afford my electric bill or otherwise I'm not going to be able to eat,' or medicine."

For people who absolutely have to brave the heat, officials at the city's Health Services Department have some advice.

"It's good to drink liquids that contain salts that replenish our body," said Tim Link, an environmental sanitarian for Dubuque." We lose a lot of electrolytes when we sweat a lot, so the other thing we can do is utilize snacks like salty crackers."

He also suggests checking on elderly neighbors or family members who might not have air conditioning.

Operation New View is accepting donations for fans. More donation information is available my calling the agency at 563.556.5130.

Billmeyer said many low-income families in the community are still asking for assistance in this heat and the agency would love to be able to provide them with some relief.

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