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Program checks on seniors during dangerous heat

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PORTSMOUTH, Va. - The extreme heat can be especially dangerous for seniors, who may live alone and aren't capable of fixing broken air conditioning units. Local law enforcement is making sure seniors get all the help they need through a simple phone call.

The Senior Watch program by the Portsmouth Sheriff's Department makes sure senior citizens are safe and have everything they need. When extreme heat rolls in, one extra question ensures seniors aren't overheating.

"This time of year, we're asking them, have you got air conditioning? If they don't have you got somebody you can go to? What can we do to help you?" said Captain Lee Cherry.

The program checks on around 100 seniors living in Portsmouth every single day. Captain Cherry said seniors don't need to be out in the heat, so if deputies can help with any errands, including picking up medication, they do so. If deputies visit seniors in their home, they make sure the temperature is safe since seniors may not notice.

"Seniors also tend to like it very warm, so they may not even be aware of how much warmer it's getting because they keep their houses warm as a rule," said Robin Barton who works with Seniors Services of Southeastern Virginia.

Monday, Deputy Compton checked in with Evelyn Martin. Everything checked out, but Martin knows if she needs anything, all she has to do is make one phone call.

"They feel like part of my family. I feel like I can call on them anytime and I know one of them will be here," said Martin.

The Senior Watch program is available to help seniors if loved ones don't live nearby. The deputies call each senior every morning and the seniors are expecting their call. If no one answers, deputies are immediately dispatched to that senior's home.