INDIANAPOLIS — For Meals On Wheels, the need for food is always in season.
“We’re doing extra phone calls to all of our 36 routes,” said Hope Steel, volunteer coordinator.
With dangerously hot weather in the forecast, organizers are taking extra precautions for their client base, which mostly consists of elderly, critically ill and homebound Hoosiers.
“Our volunteers are our eyes and ears when they’re out there delivering,” said Steel.
Steel said volunteers are required to do wellness checks during deliveries, keeping an eye out for anything unusual, especially during times of extreme weather.
“Mail piling up, maybe their trash is piled up,” said Steel. “Something that you think seems off, maybe you haven’t seen a client or a neighbor for a couple of days, you should check on them as well.”
Wellness checks are what experts consider key throughout these next few days of high temperatures.
“With severe heat, the very young and the elderly can be very badly affected by it,” said Indianapolis EMS Medical Director Mark Liao. “Make sure that they’re doing ok, they have access to enough fluids to drink and that they’re in a safe temperature.”
Liao said IEMS is already preparing for more heat-related calls within the next several days.
“We typically see increased amounts of people passing out, asthma problems due to the air quality, breathing problems in general, and of course, things related to dehydration,” Liao said.
When it comes to the extreme heat, Liao said young kids and the elderly are most at risk as they cannot easily compensate for the elements.
“They can develop confusion and organ damage if their body heat goes too high,” Liao said. “So, if that’s identified, if someone’s not acting right out in the heat, it’s really important to call 911 as quick as possible.”
Checking in on neighbors, family and friends, along with avoiding strenuous outdoor activity and staying hydrated are other suggestions experts recommend to stay safe in the elements.
In the meantime, Meals On Wheels is also taking measures of its own to ensure safe deliveries as temperatures rise.
“This week especially, we really want clients to have an insulated bag, if they’re not going to be home, with an ice pack,” said Steel. “They can have a frozen water bottle as well if they don’t have an ice pack.”
In the event a client is not home, and they do not have an insulated cooler or bag set out, organizers will not deliver due to unsafe conditions.
“We don’t want clients to eat food that’s spoiled, that’s been out in the sun,” Steel said. “We’re not going to be able to leave it if it’s not in a safe area.”
Steel said Meals On Wheels is also accepting donations for insulated bags and coolers as most clients are low-income and likely can’t afford one of their own.
If you’re interested in donating or volunteering, you can visit their website for contact information.