Heat Prevention: Staying Safe This Summer
Hot weather can be dangerous, especially for seniors and those with certain medical conditions. Mountain-Pacific Quality Health and our partners remind you to prepare for the summer heat by hydrating, staying cool, and knowing the warning signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
Most heat-related deaths in the United States were among people over the age of 65, according to a 2012 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Underlying health conditions, prescription medications that contribute to dehydration, and simply not having access to air conditioning all contribute to heat-related deaths for those ages 65 and older. Thankfully, there are simple steps you and your loved ones can take to be safe in the heat.
Recommendations to stay safe
Drink more fluids
Stay hydrated regardless of your activity level; proper hydration will water your body and keep it at a normal temperature. Drinks with sugar or alcohol can lead to dehydration. If you were told to limit fluids because of medications, please consult your doctor.
Stay in a cool place
An air-conditioned location is ideal. If you don’t have air conditioning, then visit a library or shopping mall – even if only for a few hours. Taking a cool shower or bath can help cool down your body as well. Once temperatures reach 90 degrees or more a fan will not counter heat and humidity.
Take it easy and avoid strenuous activity when it’s hot inside or outside.
Acclimate to the heat
Let your body get used to the heat so you become more tolerant. Take your time and venture out into the heat gradually. Consult your doctor if you have concerns or questions about acclimating to the heat.
If you go outside
Limit your time in the sun and avoid sunburn; use sun screen. Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing that is lightweight. Consider a wide-brimmed hat or umbrella to stay shaded.
Know the signs
Heat stroke symptoms
Red, hot dry skin, high temperature, confusion, convulsions and fainting.
Heat exhaustion symptoms
Dizziness, headaches, sweaty skin, weakness, cramps, nausea, vomiting and a fast heart.
If you are a caregiver for an adult who may be vulnerable to heat exposure it’s recommended that you visit at least twice a day to watch for the signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Don’t be afraid to check on elderly neighbors if they are living alone. If you’re 65 or older and don’t have the means to get an air conditioner, ask your local agency on aging (they often have programs for free air conditioners). Just remember – stay cool, hydrate and take it easy to prevent heat stroke or heat exhaustion.