Hot Weather Safety Tips For Senior Citizens Is Serious Business
Hot weather safety tips for senior citizens needs to be taken seriously. While too much heat is not safe for everyone, it’s especially risky for seniors. They usually have weaker immune systems as well as suffering from one or more chronic diseases. When combined with the medications they take, exposure to excessive heat can lead to very bad outcomes.
Hot Weather Safety: Who Is At Risk?
Each year, most people who die from hyperthermia are over 50 years old. If you fit this profile, here are Health problems that put you at greater risk include:
- Heart or blood vessel problems
- Poorly working sweat glands or changes in your skin caused by normal aging
- Heart, lung, or kidney disease, as well as any illness that makes you feel weak all over or results in a fever
- Conditions treated by drugs, such as diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers, and some heart and high blood pressure medicines
- Taking several prescription drugs; ask your doctor if any of your medications will likely get you overheated
- Being very overweight or underweight
- Drinking alcoholic beverages
Hot Weather Safety: Warning Symptoms
Learn to identify the symptoms of over heating. It could save your life.
- Heat syncope is a sudden dizziness that can happen when you are active in hot weather. If you take a heart medication called a beta blocker or are not used to hot weather, you are even more likely to feel faint. Rest in a cool place, put your legs up, and drink water to make the dizzy feeling go away.
- Heat cramps are the painful tightening of muscles in your stomach, arms, or legs. Cramps can result from hard work or exercise. Though your body temperature and pulse usually stay normal during heat cramps, your skin may feel moist and cool. Find a way to cool your body down. Rest in the shade or in a cool building. Drink plenty of fluids, but not those with alcohol or caffeine.
- Edema is a swelling in your ankles and feet when you get hot. Put your legs up to help reduce swelling. If that doesn’t work fairly quickly, check with your doctor.
- Heat exhaustion is a warning that your body can no longer keep itself cool. You might feel thirsty, dizzy, weak, uncoordinated, and nauseated. You may sweat a lot. Your body temperature may stay normal, but your skin may feel cold and clammy. Some people with heat exhaustion have a rapid pulse. Rest in a cool place and get plenty of fluids. If you don’t feel better soon, get medical care. Be careful—heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke.
Heat stroke is a medical emergency and you need to get medical help immediately. Older people living in homes or apartments without air conditioning or fans are at most risk. People who become dehydrated or those with chronic diseases or alcoholism are also at high risk. Signs of heat stroke are:
- Fainting (possibly the first sign) or becoming unconscious
- A change in behavior—confusion, agitation, staggering, being grouchy, or acting strangely
- Body temperature over 104°F (40°C)
- Dry, flushed skin and a strong, rapid pulse or a slow, weak pulse
- Not sweating even if it is hot
Lower Your Risk With These Safety Tips
Things you can do to lower your risk of heat-related illness:
- Drink plenty of liquids, such as water or fruit or vegetable juices. Stay away from drinks containing alcohol or caffeine. If your doctor has told you to limit your liquids, ask what you should do when it is very hot.
- If you live in a home or apartment without fans or air conditioning, try to keep your house as cool as possible. Limit your use of the oven. Keep your shades, blinds, or curtains closed during the hottest part of the day. Open your windows at night.
- Dress for the weather. Some people find natural fabrics, such as cotton, to be cooler than synthetic fibers.
- Don’t try to exercise or do a lot of activities outdoors when it’s hot.
Older people can have a tough time dealing with heat and humidity.
Headache, confusion, dizziness, or nausea could be a sign of a heat-related illness. Go to the doctor or an emergency room to find out if you need treatment.
To keep heat-related illnesses from becoming a dangerous heat stroke, remember to:
- Get out of the sun and into a cool place—air-conditioning is best.
- Drink fluids, but avoid alcohol and caffeine. Water and fruit or vegetable juices are good choices.
- Shower, bathe, or sponge off with cool water.
- Lie down and rest in a cool place.
- If necessary, visit your doctor or go to an emergency room if you don’t cool down quickly.