GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV)- Summer heat waves bring sweltering temperatures and an increased risk of heat-related illnesses. Here’s what AARP recommends you need to watch out for:
Heatstroke and heat exhaustion
Top the list of heat-related problems and can be quite dangerous. If you start to feel sluggish, light-headed, nauseated or dizzy after being outside, listen to your body. Get into the shade or seek out air-conditioned areas. A cool shower or pouring cold water over wrists, ankles and the back of the neck can also help get body temperature down.
If you’re wearing a mask because of the coronavirus pandemic, make sure to take it off so you can breathe freely. If you still feel unwell after cooling down and hydrating, seek medical treatment. Some people will be reluctant to seek treatment this summer because of the COVID-19 outbreak, but failure to do so for heatstroke can be dangerous.
Dehydration is a serious problem for older people. It’s very important to keep up fluid intake in hot weather. The CDC’s guide for protecting older adults in the heat notes that people shouldn’t wait until they feel thirsty to start drinking fluids. The National Academy of Medicine suggests men drink 15.5 cups of fluid per day and women drink about 11.5 cups daily.
Also, avoid alcohol and caffeine, as they can be dehydrating.
Avoiding sunburn goes beyond making sure you aren’t pink and peeling to the point of discomfort. Older people have an increased risk of skin cancer, so wear sunscreen with broad spectrum protection, a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
It’s that prickly, itchy skin condition, can develop if you’re out in the sun. Wearing light-colored, loose clothing made of breathable fabrics can help keep you cool and prevent rashes.
Here are some strategies to keep cool:
Stay inside on the hottest days
Seek out air-conditioned areas. If you don’t have air conditioning at home, some communities offer cooling centers during heat waves. There are also low-income energy assistance programs if you’re having trouble paying your electric bill. Contact the nearest office for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for more information.
Take a dip
That could mean going for a swim or a float in a pool or a lake, but it can also mean taking a cool shower or running through a backyard sprinkler (with the kids or not).
Seek out shade
Take a walk in the woods instead of on a path in full sun or do some gardening under a tree. If you need to go out, shift your timing to early morning or evening when the sun isn’t as strong and more shade is available.
Get more water
Get in the habit of sipping regularly. Flavoring water with fruits and even vegetables like cucumber can make it more inviting, and some reusable water bottles include a core to load with lemons, apples or strawberries. Some fruits have a high-water content, so choose watermelon or grapes for snacking.
(Sponsored by AARP Michigan)