Summer is a welcome time here in the Midwest, and this year it feels particularly special after a pandemic that had us house-bound for months. While we appreciate the sunny days, the season also brings high temps and sweltering humidity that can put us at risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people aged 65 and older are more prone to heat-related health problems for a few reasons. Regulating our body temperature is a function that changes with age. Common medications may also interfere with the bodyâ€™s ability to control its sweat or temperature. Thatâ€™s why itâ€™s more important than ever to stay cool and hydrated if you must be outdoors.
Tips for staying cool and safe in the summer heat:
- Wear loose, light-colored, and lightweight clothing
- Schedule outdoor activities for early morning or evening
- Take cool baths or showers
- Drink water, even if you donâ€™t feel thirsty
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and heavy meals
- Wear sunscreen, as even a mild sunburn will affect the bodyâ€™s ability to cool
- Use the buddy system and refrain from being outdoors alone
- Take time to rest
Heat exhaustion vs heat stroke
Itâ€™s also important to be aware of the warning signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.Â The symptoms can be very different, so itâ€™s imperative to know how to respond. Heat stroke is a medical emergency that can lead to death if not treated quickly. It can occur quickly in high heat with exertion, or it can happen graduallyâ€”such as being stuck inside for several days without air conditioning.
Preventative steps to stay cool this summer
Staying hydrated throughout the dayâ€”whether youâ€™re outside or notâ€”is a simple way to help beat the summer heat. Commit to drinking water at mealtime and always have a bottle with you.
You may also want to talk with your doctor about any medications you take that may interfere with your bodyâ€™s ability to regulate temperature so you can be aware of your risks.