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From the desk of Assemblyman David McDonough: July 26, 2012

Assemblyman David G. McDonough is reminding low-income residents with serious medical conditions that New York state has set aside $3 million in funding through the federally-funded Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to provide residents with assistance in purchasing air conditioners during times of extreme heat.

Residents are encouraged to contact the Community Development Corp. of Long Island, Inc. at (631) 471-1215 to find out more information on the program and to see if they qualify for assistance.

“Periods of extreme heat can be dangerous for local seniors and residents with chronic medical conditions,” said McDonough. “Extended periods of hot weather can lead to serious health concerns, like heat stroke and exhaustion. I strongly encourage residents who believe they would qualify to take advantage of this program to help beat the heat. I would also ask local residents to take extra time to check-in on elderly family members and neighbors to ensure they are taking the necessary precautions during heat waves.”

Eligibility for the program is determined by:

• LIHEAP low-income guidelines. (For a four-person household, the maximum gross annual income to qualify is approximately $49,500.)

• Having at least one household member who has been diagnosed with a chronic or acute medical condition that is aggravated by exposure to extreme heat situations.

• A doctor providing written documentation (dated within the last six months) that air-conditioning assistance is critical to prevent a heat emergency.

Households that have a working air conditioner or have received one from the state in the last 10 years are not eligible.

The cooling program is administered by HCR with funding provided from the federal Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) funds through the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA).

Agencies will accept applications, determine eligibility and oversee the installation of the air-conditioning units. Under the terms of the grant, one air conditioner will be awarded to an eligible household or dwelling unit, with installation and labor included. Grants do not include an additional HEAP cash benefit to cover the cost of operating the air conditioning unit.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, from 1979-2003, excessive heat exposure caused 8,015 deaths in the United States. In 2001 alone, 300 deaths were caused by excessive heat exposure. The CDC recommends that if exercising in a hot environment, drink two to four glasses (16-32 ounces) of cool fluids each hour.