Record-high temperatures continue to be a threat in this new era of Climate Change. Heat causes people to make bad decisions and risk illness. Excessive heat can be deadly, especially for the elderly and children.
If you have a child or a parent that lives in an area that will see the mercury rise past the 90s, you should help them prepare. For children, of course, this means taking no risks in the heat.
It’s hard to detect symptoms of heat stroke or exhaustion, which is scary. For the elderly, it’s all about educating them and not treating them like children.
To make sure your child is safe during the summer months, we have seven tips for survival. Included in these tips will be ways to approach heat for the elderly, too. You don’t want them to be stubborn about it, so preparation must be handled differently.
Here are seven ways to practice smart heat safety:
- Staying Indoors
If there is a heatwave in your city, you want to spend as little time under the sun’s rays as possible. This should be a priority during the hottest hours of the day, from 10 am to 4 pm. Also, you should make sure the air conditioner is working as effectively as possible.
If there is no air conditioner, fans can suffice, but only if temperatures stay below 90 degrees. Once the temperature rises to such high levels, it is worth seeking public spaces with air conditioning. The hassle of leaving the home to seek air conditioning is better than suffering through a home that acts like an oven.
- Protect Yourself Outdoors
Again, if seniors or children need to be outside, try to avoid peak hours when the sun is its hottest. Early morning and late evening are best, but if they need to be out, use plenty of caution. This includes lots of sunscreen, covering as much skin in light fabric as possible, and wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
Take plenty of breaks to drink and rest, the body overheats quickly in a heatwave. Plot your journeys around shaded areas and use of car AC. Never, ever, leave the elderly or children in a hot car, even if you’re accompanying them. Hot cars trigger anxiety and their bodies can go into shock.
- Hydrate All Day
Whether indoors or outdoors, excessive heat robs the body of water constantly. Always opt for cold water over sugary drinks. Gatorade is also good, but only in moderation. The high sodium content is bad and can lead to kidney stones.
When it’s hot all day, everyone should be drinking a minimum of eight cups per day. When you are outside in the heat, adjust your intake by about twice the usual amount. Watch out for soda, coffee, and teas. Drinking too much caffeine can negate your hydration and cause fatigue.
- Senior Monitoring
Those with older parents or grandparents should keep close tabs on them. Excessive heat can quickly turn an uncomfortable situation into a dangerous one. You should plan on checking on them every day when the hot days are long and frequent.
Remember to ask them about the warning signs of heat exhaustion or hyperthermia (below). Make sure you and other family or friends have all their personal information. Equip them with an emergency monitoring device.
If they happen to fall or become too weak to reach their phone, this device could save their life.
- Healthy Home Environment
Inspect their home and air conditioning unit. Watch for mold or moisture build-up from running A/C units for extended periods. If you suspect any mold, call a professional to remove all traces and sources.
Seniors with already weaker immune systems cannot afford to get sick. The body uses up a lot of fluids to fight off infections. It can be difficult to leave the house even in a little heat while sick, as this can trigger nausea and vomiting.
- Know the Warning Signs
Seniors and young children will exhibit different signs of heat fatigue that may be hard to catch. Obviously, senior citizens can communicate through talking, although many are too proud to do so. Instead, look for these early warnings of heat-related illnesses:
- Dry skin, lips
- Heavy breathing
- Using the bathroom less
- Top of baby’s head (fontanelle) is flatter
Young children and seniors usually won’t drink water unless they are “thirsty”. This can be a problem for anyone bringing them outside for a few hours at a time. When heat waves hit, you must drink as a preventative, not a response to fatigue or stroke.
If you see your loved one exhibit multiple signs of heat exhaustion, then you should take them inside to an air-conditioned area immediately. If their symptoms don’t improve, arrange for a doctors visit right away. Multi-organ failure is a real risk and has an extremely high rate of mortality.
- Those With Highest Risks
Seniors who have underlying heart problems, cardiovascular disease, hypothyroidism, obesity, diabetes, or mental illnesses are all at a higher risk. This increase in dehydration can exacerbate their previously existing conditions.
Some prescriptions like sleeping pills, blood pressure pills, and various psychotics can increase stress on the kidneys and liver. This increases the likelihood of possible renal failure in extreme heat.
Avoiding Excessive Heat
Now, you understand what is at stake and what is required to protect seniors and children from excessive heat. There is no such thing as being over-prepared when it comes to heat waves. It’s better to be a nuisance to the elderly or children than to risk them getting seriously ill.
Keep the air cool and clean with regular maintenance before it becomes a problem when the A/C is running all day and night during hotter months.