PRINCETON — With high temperatures and heat indexes expected to be near 100 degrees for the next several days, the Bureau County Senior Center is opening its doors as a cooling site and is offering fans for senior citizens who need them.
As an additional outreach, the senior center has also started a noon time meal program.
On Tuesday, center Director Denise Ihrig said the center is serving once again as a cooling center for people who want to get out of the heat. The center is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. People can just come in and sit in an easy chair and relax or they can join others in some an activity, like bingo, cards, watching a movie or just visiting with people.
Also as in previous years, the senior center does have a limited number of fans available for senior citizens ages 69 years or older, Ihrig said. When the seniors are finished with the fans, they may return them to the center or they may keep them if needed.
For the first time, the Bureau County Senior Center has become a congregate meal site for all of Bureau County, Ihrig added. Through a joint effort, the Voluntary Action Center, Western Illinois Area Agency on Aging, and the senior center have started a trial program for July and August to provide a noon meal for senior citizens ages 60 and older, as well as others. Meals will be served at noon Monday through Friday.
There is a $3 suggested donation for seniors having the noon meal, but no senior will be denied serviced if they are unable or unwilling to provide a donation toward the cost of a meal. Non-senior citizens can also eat with the seniors for a $5 cost. However, there are no carry outs or home deliveries made.
So far this month, Ihrig said about 15-20 seniors have taken taken advantage of the noon time meal program. The important thing to know is that reservations must be made by 10 a.m. the day before by calling the senior center at 815-879-3981 or by stopping at the center at 16 W. Marion St., Princeton. People may also stop by the center to see a menu for the next day.
With the high temperatures and heat indexes to last for several days, Ihrig said it's important for families and neighbors to check on senior citizens on a daily basis to make sure they are keeping as cool as possible and that they are staying hydrated.
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• Take advantage of local cooling centers, such as public libraries, community facilities and other public buildings. In addition to the Bureau County Senior Center in Princeton, people may also go to the Prouty Community Center, 435 S. Main St. between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.
• Slow down. Strenuous activities should be reduced, eliminated or rescheduled to the coolest time of the day. Individuals at risk should stay in the coolest available place, not necessarily indoors.
• Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
• Eat small meals and eat more often. Put less fuel on your inner fires. Foods (like proteins) that increase metabolic heat production also increase water loss.
• Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
• Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat. Take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors.
• Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
• Know those in your neighborhood who are elderly, young, sick or overweight. They are more likely to become victims of excessive heat and may need help.
• Check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat.