Summer is here, and many of us are taking advantage of the opportunity to enjoy sunny days with our loved ones. Whether you're barbecuing with family or enjoying a swim, the long, warm days are perfect for relaxing. However, summer days also bring the risk of heat exposure. Seniors and those with chronic illnesses are particularly sensitive to high temperatures, so take a few simple precautions to ensure the safety of you and your loved ones.
1. Stay indoors during the hottest part of the day
Run errands or take a walk before ten a.m. or after six p.m. Avoiding exertion during the hot middle hours of the day will minimize your risk of heat exhaustion.
2. Stay indoors during heat waves
Avoid planning outdoor activities, strenuous exercise, and long shopping trips during unusually hot seasons. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and plan ahead to adjust your routine during extreme heat.
3. Dress for the heat
When you spend time outdoors, choose comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. Breathable fabrics in light colors help the body stay cool, and a wide brimmed hat will add significant protection from heat and UV rays. If possible, purchase UV protective clothing.
4. Stay hydrated
When temperatures rise, it's a good idea to drink a couple of extra glasses of water in addition to the recommended eight glasses a day. Dehydration is the root of many heat-related health problems, so drink plenty of liquids even if you don't feel thirsty! Beware of alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, however; they can contribute to dehydration.
5. Wear sunscreen
Whenever you go outdoors, use a sunblock with at least 30 SPF (Sun Protection Factor.) Check the ingredients to make sure it contains Zinc oxide or Titanium dioxide. Apply liberally and remember to reapply if you go swimming!
6. Watch the heat index
The heat index takes both humidity and temperature into account, describing how hot the weather "feels." Weather websites and local news outlets will have this information. High humidity makes it extra challenging for the body to cool itself through sweating, so if you see a high heat index forecasted, take extra steps to protect yourself and your loved ones.
7. Avoid exercise or strenuous activity
If you spend time outdoors, keep physical exertion to a minimum. Perhaps choose to sit in the shade for a family picnic rather than stand or walk in the sun. It may be a good idea to take time off from any exercise programs when the heat rises.
8. Have supplies ready to cool off
Keep supplies on hand to relieve the very first signs of overheating immediately.
- Keep Gatorade and water in the fridge. A cold drink is very helpful in cooling the body's internal temperature.
- Have extra fans ready.
- Keep a supply of ice packs or cold towels.
9. Find air conditioning
Some aging adults do not have climate controlled homes or care facilities. If this is the case, find an air conditioned public place in your area. Libraries, malls, and movie theaters are great choices for fun activities that keep you out of the heat.
Although seniors and people with chronic illnesses are particularly susceptible to heat exhaustion, there's no reason not to enjoy your summer! With these easy steps, you can prevent medical emergencies and instead create wonderful memories with family and friends.