Summer is officially here, and experts agree that it’s going to be a particularly hot one across much of the globe. Older adults are especially vulnerable to rising temperatures during extreme weather. Those who have poor circulation, high blood pressure, illnesses that cause weakness or fever, or those who take certain medications may be even more at risk. What are you doing to stay safe this summer?
Here are seven summer safety tips:
- Check your medications. Ask your doctor if the medications you’re taking will affect how you respond to heat, or if they will be less effective if exposed to higher temperatures. Some medications, like insulin, may not be as potent if exposed to temperatures above 78 degrees for more than a few minutes.
- Avoid going out in extreme heat. Stay out of extreme temperatures whenever possible. That means taking a taxi instead of waiting for the bus, visiting with friends inside instead of outside, and waiting until the evening cools down before spending time on the porch.
- Be alert for signs of heat stroke. It can be easy to ignore signs of heat stroke by assuming that they are a normal reaction to being out in the heat. But heat stroke is a serious condition. Watch for headache, nausea, rapid pulse, confusion, dizziness and high body temperature. If you suspect heat stroke, call 911 and ask for assistance in getting out of the heat immediately. Cool down with ice packs, a cold bath, and drink cold water until help arrives.
- Check in with family and caregivers. If you live alone, be sure to check in with friends, family, or caregivers regularly. Ask them to be especially mindful of calling and checking in on you during periods of extreme heat.
- Protect yourself. If you must go out in the heat, ensure that you are properly shielded from the sun. Wear sunglasses to protect your vision, put on sunscreen, and wear a hat to reduce sun exposure on your head and face. This is especially important if you are balding or have very thin hair.
- Be smart about exercise. Exercise is important, but outdoor activities such as walking, hiking, gardening, or other types of outdoor work can be dangerous during extreme heat. Plan your activities for the early morning or evening when temperatures are cooler, or look for ways to get exercise somewhere with air conditioning, like a fitness center, walking through an indoor mall, or a community recreation space.
- Stay cool. If your home does not have air conditioning, take cool baths or showers periodically to lower your overall body temperature. Also consider visiting or staying with friends or family during the worst periods of heat. Try to ensure the temperature of your environment is under 85 degrees whenever possible.