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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498

Date: July 22, 2013


WILMINGTON (July 21, 2013) - An 87-year-old New Castle County woman who died Friday has become the second heat-related death of the year in Delaware.

The death of the woman, who lived in the Newport area, was ruled an accident by the Medical Examiner's Office on Sunday. Heat exposure was a factor in her death, the Medical Examiner's Office said.

The woman's death comes two days after a 55-year-old New Castle County man was found unresponsive in an outdoor setting. The Medical Examiner's Office ruled that heat exposure contributed to his death, but found he also had an underlying medical condition.

"These unfortunate deaths remind us how important it is for people to remain indoors in as cool a place as possible during extreme temperatures and humidity levels like we endured during the past week," said Rita Landgraf, Secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services. "For those who are vulnerable, including seniors and people with disabilities, it is critical that people check in on them to make sure they are OK. If you need assistance cooling your home, there are many government and community resources available to help."

For Delawareans who need emergency help, call 911. For those who need immediate help cooling their home, call the Delaware Help Line at 211. The Help Line will connect people with community resources.

For individuals who need assistance with air conditioning costs or cooling their homes, DHSS' Division of State Service Centers offers the Summer Cooling Assistance Program (SCAP). The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), under the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

The program, which operates June through August, offers grants to those who are eligible to offset the costs to air condition a home. In addition, some individuals may be eligible to receive a room-sized air-conditioning unit. To qualify for the program, individuals must meet income eligibility requirements, defined as 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

If a person meets the income requirements and he or she is 60 or older or has a disability, the program can provide an air conditioner and financial assistance to help pay summer electric bills. For other individuals, they need a doctor's note stating someone in the household has asthma, emphysema or some condition that would make air conditioning medically beneficial. To apply for air conditioners, please call:

In New Castle County, Interfaith Community Housing of Delaware also has donated fans to be provided to individuals in need. For assistance, call Interfaith at 302-652-3991. Several local government offices and community agencies also provide fans.

In Kent and Sussex counties, the Adopt-A-Family program of DHSS' Division of State Service Centers provides household fans. To qualify, a social worker or caseworker needs to send the program a referral requesting a fan for a client. This program has a limited number of fans, which are typically provided to seniors, people with disabilities or the medically vulnerable. Fans are donated to the program from the community. For assistance, call Kent/Sussex Adopt-A-Family at 302-424-7260 or 302-739-3145. Several local government offices and community agencies also provide fans.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.