Things are heating up!
Hints to Help Keep Healthy when it is Hot
from a Home Health Aide.
The summer is here and those hazy, hot and humid days are upon us. It is important for all of us to be careful during extreme heat. It is especially important for the elderly, people who are managing chronic diseases like COPD and those caring for an elderly loved one to take precautions during hot weather and heat waves. Here are a few tips from Beth Schaefer, one of our treasured Home Health Aides, to help you enjoy the summer weather while keeping comfortable and safe:
- Wear light colors and light materials such as linen and cotton. Materials such as rayon and polyester will trap heat close to the skin.
- Wear loose fitting clothing
- Wear a hat with a wide brim to protect your face when outside
- Stay indoors during extremely hot weather, lower shades, blinds or close drapes on the east side of your home during the morning hours and the west side during the afternoon in order to keep your home or apartment as cool as possible.
- Use Air Conditioning whenever possible or a fan in the rooms where the windows are covered.
- If you do not have air conditioning in your home, go to your local Council on Aging/senior center, Aging Service Access Point, mall, movie theater, library or call a friend in order to stay cool.
- Take a cool shower or bath.
- Wear sunscreen SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 30 or higher.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat or take an umbrella to block the sun.
- Schedule outdoor activities before 10am or after 6pm when the temperature is lower.
- Avoid strenuous activity.
- If you are outside, take frequent breaks in a shaded area.
- Avoid crowded places.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Even if you are not thirsty, in order to stay hydrated.
- Avoid drinks with caffeine.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages which will dehydrate your body.
- Drink sports drinks that have the added minerals that your body loses when it seats.
- Keep frozen treats such as popsicles or sugar free popsicles in thefreezer that can help you keep cool during hot weather.
- Eat cold foods such as sandwiches and salads.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables are also another way to keep hydrated.
- Avoid hot food and heavy meals.
Use Common Sense
- Avoid long walks, particularly during noon-3pm, when the sun is at its peak.
- Slow down, avoid strenuous activity. Do not try to do too much on a hot day.
- Do not leave infants, elderly or pets in a parked car.
- Take pets inside with you to protect them. Give them plenty of fresh water.
- Pay attention to weather reports – be prepared
- If you lose power during a heat wave, contact a neighbor, family member or your town to determine the coolest place for you to be.
- Use a buddy System: be sure to check in on elderly neighbors or friends who have a chronic illness at least twice a day.
- Monitor those at high risk: infants and children up to 4 years old, people who overexert during work or exercise, people 65 and over, people who are ill or on certain medications and people who are overweight.
SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION
Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms that usually occur in the legs or abdomen. Heat cramps are often an early sign that the body is having trouble with the heat. The American Red Cross suggests a person move to a cooler place when sufferingcramps; once a comfortable position has been assumed, it is best to lightly stretch the affected muscle and gently massage the area. It is best to drink an electrolyte-containing fluid, such as a commercial sports drink, fruit juice, or milk, and if such beverages are not available, water. A person suffering heat cramps should not take salt tablets. Follow up with a healthcare professional
Heat exhaustion is a more severe condition than heat cramps. Signs of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale, ashen, or flushed skin, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, and exhaustion. Have someone call for immediate medical assistance for those in high-risk category while you begin cooling the victim. If someone is suffering heat exhaustion, the American Red Cross recommends they be moved to a cooler environment with circulating air. Help them remove or loosen as much clothing as possible and apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Fanning or spraying the person with water also can help. If the person is conscious, give small amounts of a cool fluid, such as a commercial sports drink or fruit juice, to restore fluids and electrolytes. Milk or water may also be given. Give about 4 ounces of fluid every 15 minutes. If the person’s condition does not improve or if he or she refuses water, has a change in consciousness, or vomits, call 9-1-1.
Finally, heat stroke is a life-threatening condition that develops when the systems of the body are overwhelmed by heat and begin to stop functioning. Signs of heat stroke include extremely high body temperature, red skin that may be dry or moist, changes in consciousness, rapid and weak pulse, vomiting, and seizures. Do not hesitate; call 9-1-1 immediately. While waiting for assistance, immerse the person up to the neck in cold water if possible; if not, douse or spray the person with cold water or cover the person with bags of ice. The American Red Cross suggests you apply rapid cooling methods for 20 minutes or until the person’s condition improves.