As the weather gets hotter, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Aging is partnering with local agencies on aging – as well as with Duke Energy – to distribute electric fans to eligible recipients. The program, called Operation Fan Heat Relief, will run from Wednesday, May 1 to Thursday, Oct. 31.

People 60 years of age and above, as well as adults with disabilities, are eligible to sign up for the assistance at local aging agencies across the state.

 For nearly four decades, the relief program has purchased fans for older adults, as well as those with disabilities, in order to keep them comfortable and reduce the number of heat-related illnesses and deaths in the state.

The program is made possible by donations from Duke Energy and other power companies in North Carolina. Operation Fan Heat Relief allows regional area agencies on aging and other provider agencies to buy the fans for eligible people.

 In a limited number of cases, local agencies can also purchase air conditioners for those who have certain specific health problems.

Last year, the donations allowed for the distribution of over 3,000 fans and 21 air conditioners.

An announcement of the program from the Division on Aging notes the dangers of not being able to stay safe as you get older: “As individuals age and develop chronic medical conditions, they are less likely to sense and respond to changes in temperature, and they may also be taking medications that can worsen the impact of extreme heat. Operation Fan Heat Relief helps vulnerable adults at risk for heat-related illnesses stay safe during the summer.”

The state’s announcement of the free fans also provided some additional advice for the aged – as well as others – as to how to stay safe on very hot days…

  • Increase fluid intake.
  • Spend time in cool or air-conditioned environments regularly.
  • Reduce strenuous activity during the afternoon.
  • Speak with a physician before summer about how to stay safe while taking medication that can affect the body’s ability to cool itself (for instance, high blood pressure medications).

Those with questions can contact the Division of Aging at 919-855-3400.  Also, more information about Operation Fan and Heat Relief – including tips on preparing for extreme heat and a list of local agencies distributing the fans – is available at