The hot summer weather and high temperatures are here and for some that could mean serious health problems. People of all ages are sensitive to extremes in temperature, but as you age, your body may become less able to respond to extremely hot or cold temperatures. In normal weather, the body’s internal thermostat produces perspiration that evaporates and cools the body. However, in extreme heat and high humidity, evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to maintain normal temperature, which may lead to heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. In addition, taking certain types of medications can affect how your body responds to heat.
Be aware of days when extreme heat conditions are predicted by paying attention to your local weather forecasts. If you believe you, or anyone you are with, is experiencing a heat-related medical emergency, promptly call 911, and if possible, move to a cooler place.
A few common sense measures can reduce heat-related problems, especially for the elderly, the very young and people with respiratory ailments, who are more susceptible to the effects of high temperatures. Here are some tips to follow to stay safe during hot and humid summer weather.
- Slow down, avoid strenuous activity.
- Do not try to do too much on a hot day.
- Drink plenty of water regularly and often, even if you do not feel thirsty.
- Stay indoors and, if at all possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the mall or public library—even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat.
- Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings or louvers. This can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80%.
- Wear light-colored, light weight, loose fitting clothes
- Wear a hat or other head covering when out in the sun
- Go to a place where you can get relief from the heat, such as air conditioned schools, libraries, theaters and other community facilities that may offer refuge during the warmest times of the day.
- Limit your intake of alcoholic beverages. They can dehydrate your body.
- Eat well-balanced, light, regular meals.
- Reschedule activities for cooler times of the day
- Use sunscreen lotion with a high SPF (Sun Protection Factor) rating of SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on their labels) 30 minutes prior to going out. Continue to reapply it according to the package directions.
- Check on family, friends and neighbors.