It’s well known that hot weather can be dangerous, particularly for older adults (65 or older). Hot weather is more likely to cause health problems for older adults for a variety of reasons, such as aging-related physical changes in the body, chronic medical conditions or taking medication that may affect body response to the hot weather.
Tips for Staying Safe in Hot Weather
When the temperature rises above 90°F (32 C), older adults need to be proactive and keep in mind the following tips:
- Avoid going outside from 11am-5pm
- Stay in air-conditioned spaces. Older adults with coronary heart disease need to transition slowly from hot air to cold air-conditioned air in order to avoid chest pain or discomfort. This discomfort is caused by sudden vasoconstriction of blood vessels after exposure to cold air. Ideally, stay a couple minutes in a corridor with pre-air-conditioned space.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of cool water, clear juices, and other liquids that don’t contain alcohol or caffeine ( 2l of liquid per day) Alcohol and caffeine can dehydrate you (dry you out).
- Dress appropriately in loose, light-colored clothes (dark-colored clothes absorb heat).
- Use broad-spectrum sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.
- Cool down! Take wet washcloths or towels with cool water and put them on your wrists, ankles, armpits, and neck.
How to Recognize and Treat Health Problems Caused by Heat?
What it is: A loss of water in your body. It can be serious if not treated.
Warning signs: Weakness, headache, muscle cramps, dizziness, confusion, and passing out.
What to do: Drink plenty of water and, if possible, “sports drinks” such as Gatorade™, which contain important salts called “electrolytes.” Among other things, electrolytes play a key role in regulating your heartbeat. Your body loses electrolytes when you’re dehydrated.
What it is: A very dangerous rise in your body temperature that must be treated immediately.
Warning signs: A body temperature of 103 or higher; red, hot, and dry skin; a fast pulse; headache; dizziness; nausea or vomiting; confusion; and passing out.
What to do: Move to a cool, shady place, take off or loosen heavy clothes. If possible, or put cloths soaked with cool water on your wrists, ankles, armpits, and neck to lower your temperature. Without delay, move to a cool, Call 911.
Try and see if you can safely swallow water or sports drinks. Note: If you are caring for someone else who has heat stroke, only give them water or drinks if they are awake and can swallow.