Alaska seniors struggle to stay cool in hot weather
Mary Reeve and her husband James have seven fans and air purifiers running constantly in their third-floor apartment in Muldoon.
"It's high noon and it's 86 degrees in here," Mary said pointing to a thermometer in the apartment on Tuesday.
Mary says they've struggled to stay cool during the wave of hot weather. Mary was wearing an ice pack on her head while James was freezing bottles of water. They also keep their front door open to let cooler air in but they don't want to open any windows.
"Because the smoke comes in. And that compromises my breathing," she said.
Some days have been too hot and the couple has been doing some "hotel hopping" for a cool air-conditioned room. The couple says they've spent $600 to $700 dollars so far. They have also been visiting Fred Meyer and Walmart, not to buy groceries but for the air conditioning inside the buildings.
They are trying to move to an apartment on the first floor which would be cooler. Reeve says she has asked Cook Inlet Housing Authority to move because of some health concerns, which she showed in a doctor's note.
Sezy Gerow-Hanson, Director of Public and Resident Relations for Cook Inlet Housing Authority, stated in an email that residents have access to professional community directors when things come up.
"We give residents lots of options and assistance when they have any kind of challenge with their current housing situation. Our goal is always to keep people successfully housed," Gerow-Hanson wrote.
As far as Reeve being able to move, Gerow-Hanson said that assuming there are vacancies, the housing authority has specific guidelines and paperwork that need to be completed, even with a doctor's note.
As far as the heat goes, Gerow-Hanson says the unusual heatwave is making homes uncomfortably hot and the group's rental housing is no different.
"There isn't much that can be done besides closing windows and shades during the day to minimize heat coming in, and opening windows at night to let in cooler air and then trying keeping that cycle going," she wrote. "Alaska's housing stock just isn't built for sustained solar gains like we've been experiencing in this record-setting weather."
Gerow-Hanson also said, with senior housing especially, that they encourage residents to have a buddy system and to check in on each other regularly as neighbors.
Meanwhile, Mary and James Reeve are keeping their fans on at all hours. Harder to find fans are expected to be available Wednesday in Anchorage at Andy's Ace Hardware in Muldoon. The staff said they expected 520 fans to arrive. However, they say 370 fans are already purchased, leaving 150 available.
Ace Hardware says people can purchase a fan in advance but they must show up at the store to do that. The hardware store expects more fans to arrive early next week.
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