Triple-digit summertime temperatures are a fact of life in southern Arizona. On average nearly 800 people are admitted to hospitals due to heat-related illnesses each year. Heat-related illnesses can even be fatal. With Ninety-five percent of all the heat-related deaths occurring between May and September now is the perfect time to talk about ways in which you can prevent heat-related illnesses from affecting you or your loved ones.
Anyone can be susceptible to heat-related illness but those at greater risk include the senior population (those over 65). According to the CDC about 80% of all heat-related deaths occur in people over the age of 50.
There are two major keys in preventing heat-related illnesses or deaths.
The first of which is: Have a Plan
1. Drink plenty of water.
2. Stay indoors when possible, especially between the peak heat hours between 11am and 3pm.
3. When indoors stay in a well-ventilated area.
4. If going outdoors be sure to: wear sunscreen, a hat and light-loose fitting clothing, bring a water bottle, and take your time.
5. Eat light meals
Here are some tips for fun indoor activities that caregivers can do with seniors:
· Take this time to organize pictures and scrapbooks
· Plan ahead for holidays and birthdays by putting together gift lists and organizing address books
· Take a trip to local museums and/or libraries
· Go to a movie
· Do some mall walking, a great way to beat the heat and stay active
· Check with local recreation centers and senior centers about other activities
The second key is to: Know the Signs
- Painful muscle contractions
**Take heat cramps seriously, cool yourself down to prevent more serious problems
- Dizziness, fatigue, faintness and/or headache
- Skin that is pale and clammy
- Pulse that is rapid and weak
- Breathing that is fast and shallow
- Muscle cramps
- Intense thirst
**Seek medical attention immediately!
- Often preceded by heat exhaustion and its symptoms
- Skin that is hot, dry, flushed - no sweating
- High body temperatures
- Rapid heartbeat
** Call 911. This is a serious medical emergency that can lead to death. While waiting for help to arrive, get out of the sun or heat, drink fluids, and lie down with cool washcloths on your face and neck
For more information and an easy to read guide on how you can stay cool this summer please visit: http://www.epa.gov/aging/pdfs/resources/ehe_guide_lo_2006_0619.pdf