PENSACOLA — The annual Senior Chill Out, a one-day donation drive to collect new air conditioners, fans and/or funds to help seniors beat the heat, will be held by the Council on Aging of West Florida, WEAR ABC 3, WFGX 35, Cat Country 98.7, NewsRadio 92.3, and Lowe’s Home Improvement on Friday, May 31, at area Lowe’s stores (Fairfield Drive, Airport Boulevard and Nine Mile Road in Pensacola; Highway 98 in Gulf Breeze; and Highway 90 in Pace) from 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. The community is encouraged to help seniors who experience dangerous health complications as a result of the stifling summer heat by donating ACs or fans. Monetary contributions are also appreciated.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more people die from exposure to extreme heat each year than from hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes combined. The elderly are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of excessive heat due to their body’s decreased ability to regulate temperature. They are also in potential peril because of medical conditions and prescription medicines that can impair their ability to feel hot or even perspire.

“It’s extremely uncomfortable and even dangerous to elders for their homes to reach 90 degrees inside during the summer,” said John Clark, president/CEO of Council on Aging. “Our community partners enable us to tangibly make life better for these frail, older adults.”

Each year, hundreds of local elders receive help through the program. In 2018, the Council on Aging was able to assist nearly 600 at-risk elderly people avoid the costly and hazardous effects of heat-related health complications.

“A car accident years ago resulted in two knee surgeries and brain injuries,” said Veronica Minor, a 64-year-old who lives with her brother and granddaughter. “I can only work about 10 hours a week, so I can’t afford to repair my central AC unit. Thanks to Council on Aging, we have window units in almost every room, so my granddaughter and I can remain cool and comfortable through the summer.”

Information on heat stress and heat stroke will be available at the event, as well as information on how our community’s vulnerable seniors can receive donated AC units and fans.