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Meals on Wheels asks community to help keep older people safe during heat wave

Our older neighbors are most at risk for heat stroke, dehydration, and possible death.

MINNEAPOLIS — Before the lunch hour but still during an excessive heat warning Wednesday, around a dozen volunteers met outside Judson Memorial Baptist Church to load their cars with meals.

"No, it's not too bad right now," volunteer Jim Burns said. "I think it will get a lot worse this afternoon."

For 18 years, Burns regularly volunteered with Meals on Wheels to deliver meals to people who are considered vulnerable. He says the timing worked well with his lunch break at work; sometimes his daughters would join him. 

Since retiring two years ago, he continues to volunteer as an alternate driver when regular drivers aren't able to do their routes.

"Takes about 45 minutes," Burns said of his latest assignment, which involved delivering four hot meals and one cold meal to homes around south Minneapolis. "Today is beef lasagna, broccoli, and warm potatoes."

While clients range in age, many of them are older. On hot days, older people are especially at risk of dehydration, heat stroke, and possible death.

That's why Meals on Wheels is asking everyone to check on their neighbors.

Signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, cold or clammy skin, cramps, headache, and/or dizziness. You can help by ensuring those affected move into a cool area, sip water, and wear looser clothing.

It's also important to check for signs of a heat stroke, which include nausea, vomiting and/or hot, red skin. Seek medical attention.

Burns says, as a volunteer, there are sometimes opportunities to see whether clients are doing okay at home.

"If there's something obvious that we can do to help, you know, we're able to do that," he said. "A lot of it is just being able to deliver the meal, say 'hi' and 'hope you have a good day.'"

Meals on Wheels recipients can request a fan by contacting their local provider or Metro Meals on Wheels at 612-623-3363.

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