A partnership between the public and private sector is seeing to it that people at risk from the summer heat can get some relief.

Now that it’s beginning to get hot in North Carolina, the NC Division of Aging and Adult Services is partnering with NC Area Agencies on Aging, and with local service providers, to distribute fans to eligible recipients through “Operation Fan Heat Relief.” In some cases, air conditioners will also be given to those who need them.

The fans and air conditioners will go to people 60 and older as well as to adults with disabilities. The program began in 1986 to help older adults and those with disabilities be more comfortable during the summer months. It was also intended to help prevent heat-related illnesses.

According to a Monday, April 27 press release from the NC Department of Health and Human Services, the elderly are at a greater risk than most when the weather turns hot.

“As individuals age and develop chronic medical conditions, they are less likely to sense and respond to changes in temperature,” it states. “They may also be taking medications that can worsen the impact of extreme heat.”

The press release adds that the program is more important than ever during the current pandemic: “Given the spread of COVID-19, people should check on neighbors and friends aged 60 and older by phone or internet during high temperatures when possible. Visiting a cool space in the house of a neighbor or friend is recommended if one doesn’t have adequate cooling, but physical distancing of at least 6 feet, wearing a cloth face covering and hand-washing should be practiced.”

Operation Fan Heat Relief is funded by donations from Duke Energy Carolinas, Duke Energy Progress and Dominion Resources. The donated money allows area agencies to purchase fans for those eligible. In addition, provider agencies also have funds to purchase a limited number of air conditioners based on a person’s specific health conditions.

Last year, the initiative distributed 5,185 fans and 27 air conditioners.

For more details, those interested can contact the NC Division of Aging and Adult Services’ Housing Program Consultant at 919-855-3419.