Being a good neighbor, saving lives

By Layron Livingston - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - It's hot, and for that reason some East Texans are taking the whole "be your brother's keeper" mantra to heart, and helping keep them cool to keep heat related deaths down. The heat is on to find more and more east Texans determined to be good neighbors.

"Everyone needs to have something to get up for," said Hugh Denson.

And at 90 years old, soon to be 91, Denson gets up and does it.

"It makes me feel good when I can see somebody smile when they see me coming," he said.

Denson volunteers everyday as a driver for Meals-on-Wheels in Tyler.

"It's not just to give them something to eat, but to know that they're there and doing okay," he explained.

Especially during the summer. That's when drivers and volunteers tend to "evaporate" because of the heat.

"It's a set of eyes," said Rachel Hatt is director of development. "It's a set of ears. It's someone to talk to. It's someone to see for their well-being."

"The chances of dying in a heat related death are greater than that of dying in a tornado, and people just don't think about that," said KLTV meteorologist Grant Dade.

On average, 170 people died each year during the last decade because of the heat. More than hurricanes, or flooding, and tornados.

"Tornado scares you, but heat, [people say,] 'We can take heat. We're from Texas.' But, we need to take it seriously," said Dade.

Christina Fulsom is executive director of PATH.

"We're taking care of each other," she said. "Neighbors are taking care of neighbors."

Donations of fans and funds help, but she says friendliness can saves lives.

"Regardless of what your household is like, or the community you live in, always check in on your neighbors," said Fulsom. "There's nothing wrong with you going to their door, knocking on the door and asking if they're okay."

For Denson, that's the best part.

"I tell everybody, 'It helps me more than anybody else," said Denson.

Both TXU and SWEPCO provide customers with a chance to be good neighbors. Just take a look at your next energy bill. Both companies accept donations from their customers to provide energy aid. All you have to do is check the box and tell them how much you want to donate. The money collected helps local non-profits and charities help those who can't always help themselves.

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