It’s summertime again, and that means it’s time for a refresher on how to stay safe in the summer heat. Almost 400 Americans die as a result of heat waves each year, and most of them are elders who don’t recognize that they are overheating – a potentially dangerous situation. Seniors can possibly be at a higher risk of overheating due to other existing medical conditions, such as dementia, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Certain medications, including diuretics or items used for treatment of Parkinson’s disease, can also make the risk of overheating greater.
Common advice to protect seniors in the summer includes spending time in air-conditioned buildings, wearing light clothing, and staying hydrated. These are certainly great ways to stay safe during the summer, but there are other tricks you should have up your sleeve, too.
Tricks and Tips for a Cool Summer:
- Make sure to watch out for signs of confusion or an altered mental state. These may be indications of overheating or possibly heat stroke. If an elderly relative or neighbor collapses or passes out call 9-1-1.
- To keep the home cooler, close curtains and blinds on the east side of the home during the morning, and the west side during the afternoon.
- If your home does not have air conditioning, spend some time at a movie theater, the mall, or public air-conditioned spaces.
- Make sure you have plenty of hydrating beverages around – but stay away from highly caffeinated drinks and alcoholic beverages.
- Stock up on popsicles and other delicious frozen treats to stay cool during hot times.
- Dress appropriately for the weather. Lightweight clothing and broad-brimmed hats are ideal. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from exposure to UV rays.
- Wear sunscreen to protect your skin from damage.
Stay Safe – Communicate!
Your greatest tool this summer is your voice, so use it! There are people around you who want to help you stay safe and cool this summer. Communication plays a large part in your summer safety. Here are some ways to make sure that you are heard and people are aware of your summer status:
- If you plan to be outdoors for an extended period of time, make sure someone who is nearby knows where you’ll be.
- If you have a caregiver, make sure you are checked on you at least twice a day.
- Talk to you doctor. Find out if your medications could be affected by rising temperatures. Some medications are less effective if they are stored at temperatures higher than room temperature.
- Meet your neighbors! Find out when they will be around so you can plan your outings accordingly. See if your neighbors or their mature children can come by and check on you occasionally throughout the hottest parts of the day.
- Keep an emergency phone list nearby. Your list should include local emergency services, as well as your doctor, your caregiver, and friends and neighbors.
Keep Your Cool for a Fun Summer
The dangers of the summer heat can seem daunting. But if you know how to properly care for yourself, you should still be able to have a safe and happy summer. Preventative measures are highly effective, and keeping in touch with those around you can make a huge difference. So, chill out and enjoy your summer the safe way!