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Seniors concerned about health find ways to stay cool during heat

The ozone conditions in Connecticut on Friday increased the likelihood of respiratory symptoms and breathing discomfort for sensitive groups including seniors.

MANCHESTER, Conn. — The ozone conditions in Connecticut on Friday increase the likelihood of respiratory symptoms and breathing discomfort in sensitive groups of people, according to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).

The heat and humidity will continue until early next week. While many enjoy the summer weather, it is a health concern for others including seniors with underlying health conditions.

Donna Wilson has COPD emphysema, making it difficult for her to breathe. She and many others take to the Manchester Senior Center as a place to stay active and stay cool.

“Arthritis is really bad for me in the heat. Not in the cold weather but in the heat,” the 75-year-old said. “I have my inhalers and then I drink lots of water.”

RELATED: Doctors warn people to be careful in heat wave if taking certain medications

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The Manchester Senior Center offers activities for seniors to stay cool during the heat.

The Environmental Protection Agency says many groups of people are sensitive to ozone including people with lung diseases, children, seniors, those who are active outdoors, as well as some healthy people. The effects can be irritation of the respiratory system, a reduction in lung function, and aggravation of asthma and other chronic lung diseases such as emphysema and bronchitis.

Erda Koehn’s lungs are impacted by the ozone being a lung cancer survivor.

“I’ve had a part of my lung removed so that the lungs help get rid of fluid to cool you off and I’m at a disadvantage a little bit because of that,” she said. “I’m tired more easily. I don’t feel like doing very much.”

The Manchester resident uses the senior center to get access to air conditioning. She uses fans and opens the windows during the cool nights, but still needs a place to cool off. The state says people should not use fans as the main way to stay cool.

“A lot of them do have air conditioning at home but they do come for regular activities and it’s nice that they’re able to do that in comfort,” director Eileen Faust said. “A lot of seniors, they enjoy good health and some seniors do have chronic conditions and some of those chronic conditions can lead to problems with heat because they take certain medications that are affected by heat.”

Faust said senior and cooling centers are also useful to keep an eye on the health of others. If someone is home alone and experiencing dehydration, there aren’t others who can readily assist.

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Credit: FOX61
The Manchester Senior Center offers BINGO for people to stay cool during hot weather.

RELATED: FORECAST: Heat wave continues through weekend into next week

The center offers a library, workout classes, BINGO, and other ways for people to stay engaged. The state's extreme hot weather protocol will last through Tuesday morning.

It's advised people should wear light-colored clothing, never leave pets or children in cars, limit outdoor activities to morning and evening, and avoid direct sunlight.

Anyone looking for a cooling center can call 211 or can search for one here.

Tony Black is a multi-media journalist at FOX61 News. He can be reached at ablack@fox61.com. Follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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