As we get into the heat of summer in the Northwest, it’s important to remember the dangers of over exposure to high temperatures. Older adults do not adjust to sudden temperature changes as quickly as they might have in their youth.
What is Heatstroke?
Heatstroke is a condition caused when a body overheats and it is typically a result of prolonged exposure to or physical exertion in high temperatures. The very young and adults over 65 are most prone to developing heatstroke due to less-than-prime central nervous systems. In most cases heatstroke can be avoided however! Use the below ten tips to avoid heatstroke in yourself, or in those you care for:
Ten Tips to Avoid Heatstroke:
- Stay Hydrated- Hydration will be at the top of any heatstroke prevention list because it is vital for helping your body deal with the heat. Stay hydrated by keeping a water bottle with you throughout the day or putting together a hydration station in your home. It doesn’t just have to be water either! Juice, sodas, sports drinks and other beverages will also do. Try to avoid too much alcohol, coffee or tea in the heat as they may contribute to dehydration.
- Cool Yourself – Water isn’t just for drinking! Use water to cool yourself throughout the day. Mist yourself with a spray bottle filled with chilled water, place a damp, cool cloth on your neck, soak your feet in cool water or even try dunking your head for relief from the heat.
- Dress for the Heat- Wear clothes that are appropriate for the weather such as light colored and loose clothing. If you are out in the sun protect yourself from the sun (and the heat) by wearing a hat.
- Relax- Avoid heat exhaustion by taking it easy during the day. Need to get errands done, clean the house or finish up some yard work? Try to keep activities to the cooler morning and evening hours.
- Acclimate- When your body is not used to being in the heat then it will be more likely to have a negative reaction to the heat. If you are unable to avoid the heat entirely or move your duties to cooler times of the day then take it easy and acclimate yourself to the weather.
- Eat Fresh- Avoid heating up your kitchen and yourself by eating fresh salads, sandwiches or chilled soups instead of cooking a hot meal. Not in the mood for something cool? Order dinner in or eat out in an air conditioned restaurant if you are able.
- Keep the Air Moving– Whether by cranking up the air conditioner or placing fans throughout the house you’ll want to keep the air moving to keep it as cool as possible. If you do not have air conditioning then try putting a fan pointing out of a window so that the heat of the house is blown outside. Putting a bowl of ice behind a fan may also help cool the air some.
- Stick to the Shade– Sometimes you will need to be outside when it is hot. When you are unable to get indoors, try to seek out shade whenever possible. Carry your own shade by bringing a large umbrella.
- Seek Air Conditioning- When things get too hot and nothing helps seek a venue with air conditioning. Go visit a friend, catch a movie, enjoy a meal out or go shopping at the mall.
- Be Aware- It is very important that you are aware of the heat index and how you react to the heat. Some medications can cause dehydration when coupled with extreme heat. Be aware of your limitations and make a plan for the days that the heat is too high.
More heatstroke advice:
- Some simple ways to avoid serious conditions like heatstroke from the Modern Survival Blog
- 7 Ways to Avoid Elderly Heatstroke and Exhaustion from A Place for Mom blog
- Heatstroke Prevention from the Mayo Clinic
Have a safe and beautiful summer out there!