Senior centers take good care when temperatures are high

By Chris Nichols, Daily Planet Staff
Thursday July 11, 2002

With temperatures soaring around the Bay Area, local senior centers and extended care facilities have taken extra steps to stay safe and beat the heat. While there have been no emergencies involving heat stroke or dehydration at any of the Berkeley senior centers, supervisors are taking precautions. 

“We’re still operating under normal circumstances but I think the most important thing is to take good common sense measures,” said Larry Taylor, director of the west Berkeley Senior Center. 

Taylor says the staff keeps pitchers of water on every table. It has additional fans running and recommends its residents wear hats and sunscreen outdoors. Supervisors said they have closely watched weather reports and were not surprised by this week’s heat wave.  

“We knew this was coming,” said Diane Mitchell, director of admissions at Berkeley’s Chaparral, a skilled nursing facility.  

Most centers in Berkeley benefit from a cooler climate compared with facilities to the east that have experienced scorching temperatures.  

Sacramento reached 112. Reno hit 109. Carson City was 104. 

According to Mitchell, the Chaparral facility, though it does not have air conditioning, benefits from the shade of surrounding trees, fans and high ceilings.  

Throughout the year seniors attended health and safety workshops at the west Berkeley center that helped prepare them for unusually warm conditions, said Suzanne Ryan, director of the north Berkeley senior center. 

“It’s full steam ahead here,” Ryan said. “Other than a request to move one of our meetings down to the first floor instead of the second because of the heat, we haven’t had much of a change.”  

Ryan said that seniors at the north Berkeley facility attended a piano concert Wednesday and took a bus trip to Jack London Square.  

A heat advisory was issued Wednesday for inland portions of the San Francisco and Monterey Bay areas as high temperatures were expected to reach or exceed 105 degrees.  

Heat advisories are issued by the service after temperatures exceed 105 degrees in a general region. Temperatures in Berkeley are expected to be moderate, in the 70s and 80s today. 

According to Carolina Horn of the Bay Area’s National Weather service office in Monterey, warnings are disseminated through wire services, the internet and other media outlets.