The Salvation Army has opened its doors at 501 E. 12th Ave. in Pine Bluff as a cooling center for people to beat the heat. Lt. Bradley Hargis of The Salvation Army welcomes people to the shelter from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday. Senior citizens are encouraged to take advantage of senior programs offering transportation to centers where they may stay cool during the heat of the day.


Heat alerts are being issued due to temperatures in the middle 90s and a heat index greater than 100 degrees. Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are two of the most common heat-related illnesses, Hargis said via press release. Though today’s forecast calls for cooler temperatures with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms, meteorologists say that high summer temperatures are far from over, as August is typically the hottest month of the year.


Signs of heat exhaustion include pale, moist skin, heavy sweating, headache, nausea and dizziness. Symptoms of heat stroke include hot, red skin; changes in consciousness; shallow breathing and high body temperatures. Move a heat exhaustion victim to a cool place, remove or loosen tight clothing, and apply cool, wet cloths. Give the person a half glass of water every 15 minutes. Anyone who might be suffering from heat stroke is advised to call 911.


Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Major Lafayette Woods Jr. said Neighbor to Neighbor at 1419 S. Pine St. in Pine Bluff is also open as a cooling center. He reminded people not to leave children and pets unattended in cars for any length of time.


“That is criminal and could result in a loss of life,” Woods said. “We encourage people to be hydrated by drinking Gatorade or water and take adequate breaks. Some people get outside and do not break breaks.”


The sheriff’s office is collecting fans for senior citizens. Those who wish to donate fans or window unit air conditioners may take them to the sheriff’s office’s Uniformed Patrol Division, 109 S. Main St. in Pine Bluff between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.


“The main concern this time of year is for the elderly community,” Woods said. “If people do not go to cooling systems, then they at least have fans. We have a waiting list.”


Hargis advises people to do the following to stay cool:


*Drink plenty of water. Dehydration may contribute to many health issues, especially in the young and elderly.


*Check on neighbors and relatives.


*Stay out of the sun, as much as possible, especially during the afternoon hours when the heat will be highest.


*Monitor National Weather Service Radio and local media to be aware of heat advisories and warnings as they occur.


*Plan now what steps to take for long periods of heat.


In addition to providing cooling stations, the Pine Bluff Salvation Army is accepting donations of fans to pass out to people who have no air conditioning. A fan may mean the difference between life and death. To donate a fan, people may call the Pine Bluff Salvation Army office at 870-534-0504.


Monetary donations can be made by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY or online at www.salvationarmyusa.org.