Okay, it’s not often that “sun stroke” and “Seattle” are found in the same sentence, but that’s exactly why we need periodic reminders that summer heat is a significant health risk, especially for seniors.
According to the National Weather Service, there are four types of heat disorders to watch for: sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke (or sun stroke).
Heat disorders can easily sneak up on you, but they aren’t totally unpredictable. When it’s hot out, you need to be careful. Prevention is better than a cure.
Here are tips from the NWS:
Avoid the heat. If your home doesn’t have air conditioning, head to a shopping mall or theater. Fans circulate hot air, but they don’t lower the temperature. Even two hours in an air-conditioned building can make a big difference.
At Daystar Retirement Village our temperature-controlled indoor space ensures that residents are never too hot or too cold no matter the season. Our beautiful, wooded grounds provide abundant places to sit—or walk—and on sunny days there’s always a place in the shade.
Dress for heat. Loose fitting, light colored clothes can make a BIG difference. And a hat that fully covers your head and neck.
Wear sunscreen. Sunscreen doesn’t make you less prone to heat cramps or exhaustion, but it will prevent sunburn if used properly, so don’t go out without it!
Drink more water. Dehydration can be a problem for seniors (and many others) at any time of year, in any weather, but it’s a particular problem during the summer when perspiration can accelerate the loss of fluids. Don’t wait to feel thirsty. Keep a water bottle handy and be intentional about frequent sips.
Take it slow.
Learn the symptoms of heat disorders, and emergency first aid.
- Sunburn: By the time you notice red skin, you’ve already got a burn. Make sure you wear sunscreen when you’re going to be outside.
- Heat cramps: Painful spasms in the legs or stomach, heavy sweating. First aid includes putting firm pressure on the cramping muscles or gentle massage. Give sips of water.
- Heat exhaustion: Heavy sweating; weakness; skin is cold, pale or clammy; weak pulse; fainting; vomiting. First aid includes having victim lie down, loosening clothing and applying cool, wet cloths. Move person to air-conditioned area if possible. Give sips of water. If vomiting occurs, seek medical attention.
- Heat stroke: High body temperature; dry skin; rapid, strong pulse; possible unconsciousness. Call 911 immediately. Delay can be fatal. If you can’t get the person to a hospital immediately, a cool sponge bath might help. According to the NWA, do not attempt to give fluids.
Again, prevention is better than a cure. If a hot, hot day sneaks up on us this July, enjoy it in moderation.