Summer is often a time to get together with friends, family and loved ones outdoors. As temperatures rise, and the sun shines bright, it is important to take the proper precautions to prevent heat-related illnesses. Individuals with pre-existing conditions, people ages 65 and older or children under 2 years old, are most at risk in hot weather.
Below are tips for you and those in your care to stay safe during the hottest times of the year:
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Seniors and people with health conditions may not feel thirsty and can become easily dehydrated. Added berries, lemons or cucumbers can help make it more appealing.
- Wear loose, lightweight clothing and a hat. Put away winter clothes so those with Alzheimer’s or dementia don’t make unseasonal and potentially dangerous choices.
- Shield your eyes with sturdy, protective sunglasses. Many older adults experience vision loss as they age. During the summer months, the bright and direct sunlight and UV rays can take a further toll, causing problems from discomfort to lasting vision damage.
- Check medications. Some medications make the skin extra sensitive to the sun, and sun can make side effect worse, like dehydration and muscle cramps. Medications may also need to be stored in a cool place to avoid spoiling or loss of effectiveness.
- Stay in an air-conditioned environment. Do not only rely on fans to cool you down. Seniors and people with health conditions don’t adjust easily to changes in temperature, so keep the temperature as consistent and comfortable as possible.
- Always wear sunscreen and stay out of direct sun. Sunburn impacts the body’s ability to cool itself.
- Use mosquito repellent to minimize bug bites. Seniors and those with compromised immune systems are particularly vulnerable to mosquito-borne diseases.
- Limit outdoor activity and exercise during the hottest times of the day, between 11 am and 3 pm.
It is also important to know if you or someone else is experiencing heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Heat exhaustion symptoms include:
- Muscle cramps
- Nausea or vomiting
- Rapid pulse
Those feeling heat exhaustion symptoms should rest in a cool place — preferably an air-conditioned environment — and drink cool fluids, especially water. Seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or persist longer than one hour.
If someone is suffering from heat stroke, seek emergency assistance immediately. Heat stroke symptoms include:
- A body temperature above 103 degrees Fahrenheit
- Red and hot skin
- No sweating even if it is hot