After one of the snowiest winters on record, the summer heat and humidity have arrived in full force. When the temperature outside gets uncomfortably hot and sticky, it is time to think about steps you can take to keep cool and prevent dehydration and other heat related illnesses. Many people, especially the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions, are less likely to respond to changes in temperature and thus are more prone to medical complications in hot weather. This summer, please take the following steps to protect yourself from the heat:
- Use an air conditioner to keep rooms cool. If air conditioning is not available, open windows on opposite ends of your home to create cross ventilations and increase air flow. Better yet, go to a cool mall, senior center, library or movie theater for a break from the heat.
- Wear light colored, loose fitting clothing.
- Wear a hat that covers your head and shades your face, and sunglasses to protect your eyes from the damaging rays of the sun.
- Eat small, more frequent meals and avoid high protein foods such as pasta and beans.
- Avoid using your oven to cook – it will make your house hotter.
- Slow down and avoid strenuous activity.
- Drink plenty of water to make up for the loss of fluids due to sweat. Drink water regularly during the day, even if you don’t feel thirsty. By the time you are feeling the effects of thirst, you are probably already dehydrated.
- Watch for signs of heat exhaustion: heavy sweating, dizziness, headache, fatigue, muscle cramps and weak, rapid pulse. If you feel any of these symptoms get to a cool place, rest and drink cool water.
Finally, be a good neighbor. Remember to check on your elderly neighbors to ensure their health and safety, especially during prolonged periods of high heat.