According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, extreme heat causes an average of 658 deaths per year in the United States. That’s more than many natural disasters in this country! No one is more at risk from heat exhaustion and heat stroke than the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions.
Avoid spending too much time outdoors at once, but if it does happen, be aware of the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The most common signs of heat exhaustion are dehydration, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, nausea, clammy skin, and cramping. If you notice these symptoms, get indoors or in the shade immediately and drink water. Heat stroke is the more severe of the two, and symptoms include a high body temperature, alternating between chills and sweating, flushed skin, rapid breathing, and a racing heart rate. If you think you’re beginning to suffer from heat stroke, stop what you are doing immediately and seek medical assistance.
Protect yourself this summer season by following these guidelines.
- Limit your time outside in the hottest parts of the day: from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Even if you stay in the shade, the heat and humidity can do just as much damage without the sun being directly on you.
- If you must go out, ensure that you are wearing proper attire. Hats with a wide brim, loose fitted clothing, and sunscreen all help to protect you from the heat.
- Light colors help to reflect the sun’s rays and the heat associated with it. Whites and pastels will keep you much cooler than dark blues and blacks. Also be sure that your clothing is lightweight and loose fitting.
- Drink plenty of water. Fluids will keep your body hydrated and less likely to suffer the ill effects of heat exhaustion. Avoid any drinks with alcohol in them; they will only dehydrate your body and make the situation worse.
- Avoid exercise and other strenuous activity in the extreme heat. Work out in air conditioned gymnasiums or through activities that are cooling, such as swimming.
- Avoid hot areas such as attics or cars that have been outside for a long time. Cool your car down before getting in.
- Let your body get used to the heat. If you go on vacation to a place with temperatures that you are not accustomed to, allow a few days for your body to adapt to these new conditions before you do any kind of vigorous activity.
One of the most dangerous issues with overexertion in the summer is actually a psychological one. Many people, especially the elderly, do not want to admit when they can’t do something safely. Some would rather risk severe injury or death rather than appear weak or incapable. However, be aware of your own limitations and the seriousness of the summer weather. Don’t allow your idea of what you could do in the past keep you from taking care of your health now.
David York Agency provides skilled home health aide services for the elderly in their home and is abreast of all the latest guidelines for seniors. We would be happy to discuss your case with you. Please call us at (718) 376-7755 or visit our website. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.