LIVERMORE (KPIX 5) — With temperatures rising into the triple digits across much of the Bay Area, a big concern for seniors is how to stay cool while still abiding by social-distancing requirements.

That is why Spectrum Community Services’ “Meals on Wheels” program is so critical for checking in on local seniors.

“How you doing today? You staying cool?” Rob Gibbany asked one of the senior citizens on his route. He’s one of dozens of Meals on Wheels volunteers delivering lunch to seniors in the Tri-Valley.

He says only half of the seniors he saw today have air conditioning.

“I’m their contact with the outside world, and so it’s really important that I make sure they’re OK,” explained Gibbany.

He reminds them to stay hydrated, use fans or air conditioning as much as possible, only go for walks early in the morning or later in the evening and to stay out of the scorching mid-day sun.

“Drink plenty of water, alright? OK, take care of yourself,” Gibbany said to another senior as he dropped off a lunch of seafood salad and a cup of soup.

If a senior is having a heat-related emergency or isn’t answering the door, the volunteers can also summon help.

“The program is not just a hot meal. It is the emergency welfare check,” said Carrie Oldes, the director of the Meals on Wheels program for Spectrum Community Services. She says they’ve seen a 45 percent increase in enrollment for food deliveries since the pandemic started a few months ago.

Longtime residents of the valley know these sweltering days can be dangerous to seniors.

“Livermore does get extremely hot and it can wear you out, just by going out and walking,” said Livermore resident Ginny Jones.

Gibbany said he’s happy to be the one outside on days like these, so seniors can stay inside.

“These are the people that need the help the most. I mean, they’re the ones that are most at risk,” said Gibbany.

This week is the first real heat wave the Bay Area has experienced since the start of the shelter-in-place order. It makes cooling off more difficult because air-conditioned spaces like malls or movie theaters are closed.

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