While the snow has stopped in East Tennessee, dangerously cold temperatures are sticking around for the next couple of days. Organizations are asking people to check on elderly neighbors, making sure they’re healthy and safe in the cold.
“They need to be very very careful,” said Susan Long, director of the Office of Aging for Knoxville-Knox County’s Community Action Committee.
During cold snaps like this, the CAC gives seniors donated space heaters and blankets to stay warm.
“We take those and distribute to folks over the age of 60 who qualify to get a heater. The blankets, we give away typically during the holidays. With an older person, typically we find they can never have enough so they can wrap up in the home,” said Long.
There’s also the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, helping seniors worried about the electricity bill.
“That is a lifesaver for someone who’s experiencing $300, $400 heat and air bills. It’s really important,” added Long.
She says the main way the CAC checks on older adults during the winter is through volunteers, specifically Mobile Meals.
“Right now we’re delivering 950 meals each day, Monday through Friday. So when the volunteers go in, if they should notice that the heat is off, if the person seems lethargic and the room is really cold, to let us know. Obviously, they interact with them right then and they let us know so we can get a space heater out, or work with them to get their units repaired or anything that might need to be done,” Long said.
In this cold, Knoxville police are asking people to look after their neighbors, especially those who are homebound or elderly.
“If you haven’t been able to contact your neighbor or a family member, you can always call our non-emergency number which is (865) 215-7450 and we can do a welfare check,” said Knoxville Police Department spokesperson Darrell DeBusk.
“Stay inside, stay warm, stay wrapped up and keep your heat at least at a comfortable level. I would say no lower than 65 or 66 degrees,” offered Long.
Another option for seniors is to spend the day at a local senior center, many of which open between 7:30 and 8 a.m.
You can set up an appointment with the Knoxville-Knox County CAC utility assistance programs by calling (865) 637-6700 or by calling the Office on Aging at (865) 524-2786.
If you’re having trouble figuring out where to call first, an option is calling 211 to connect with the right organization and resources.