Did you know that heat is the No. 1 weather-related killer in the United States? Floods, lightning, tornadoes and hurricanes combined cannot come close to the fatalities caused by excessive heat, according to the weather service. The heat wave has already claimed 60 lives this summer.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that the first six months of 2012 were officially the hottest ever recorded.
The Administration for Children and Families sees an opportunity to use Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program block grants distributed by the Office of Community Services to help Americans deal with extreme temperatures during the summer months.
LIHEAP is a block grant program administered by states, territories and tribes through a network of local community-based organizations.
In fiscal year 2012, $3.47 billion was appropriated for LIHEAP to 50 states, the District of Columbia, five territories, and approximately 140 tribes and tribal organizations in the nation.
LIHEAP grantees like the state of Missouri have mobilized to inform their communities about resources available to them. For example, Missouri supports a Summer Energy Crisis Intervention Program to assist with cooling needs, but in the wake of the recent heat wave, ramped up their outreach effort to ensure that critical information about emergency resources and guidance from OCS were provided to customers. Missouri sent out cooling site and Red Cross information to all of its LIHEAP contractors who administer the program at the community level. In addition, the website link and list of Missouri cooling sites were circulated publicly, and enabled agencies to direct households in crisis to these resources.
Missouri is one of a number of states that has a “Hot Weather Rule,” which applies to all electric service providers, i.e., electric cooperatives, municipalities and regulated utilities. The rule prohibits the disconnection of electrical service during extreme heat, and in the case of Missouri, the temperature is defined as over 95 degrees or a heat index that reaches 105 degrees.
Those communities that had less demand for winter services this year may use unspent funds in several ways to bring relief to our nation’s most vulnerable communities. A guidance was issued to help States and local partners redirect LIHEAP funds to address the crisis.
To find out if your state is providing any of these heat relief services, contact your state LIHEAP coordinator.
Remember: stay hydrated, check on the elderly, and make sure children are never left behind inside vehicles. Don’t become a statistic this summer.