It seems we waited for the arrival of summer for a very long period of time, and now that we are fully engulfed in some of the hottest weather I can remember experiencing, we are fondly reminiscing about those cool spring evenings that required a jacket or sweater. The high temperatures and humidity of the past couple of weeks are going to continue, and so is the potential for overexposure and/or heat exhaustion. As seniors are particularly susceptible to the effects of hot weather, extra health precautions are required. Here are some tips for staying cool and healthy in the summer.
- Listen to the local weather reports so you can be prepared for extended periods of high heat and plan your activities accordingly
- Drink lots of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty. Water is the best option but juice and decaffeinated tea is also acceptable. Consult with your doctor if you are normally required to restrict fluids for health reasons.
- Stay out of the blazing sun or heat when possible. Plan your days so outdoor activities occur in the early morning or later in the day. If you must be out midday, use sun block, wear loose fitting, light coloured, natural fabrics, wear a hat, and stay in the shade.
- If you have air conditioning, use it. To reduce expenses, turn it off at night and open windows to let the cooler night air in
- If you do not have air conditioning, keep drapes and blinds closed on the sunny side of your house, but keep the windows slightly open. Take advantage of public places with air conditioning such as community centres, libraries, or shopping malls. Use a fan positioned next to an open window to bring air in. There are some great window fans on the market that draw in the cool night air and when reversed, draw out the hot air. Remember that a fan will not prevent a heat related illness when the temperature exceeds 32º Celsius.
- The fear you will catch a cold or chill from air conditioning is unfounded. Only viruses and bacteria can make you sick.
- Keep electric lighting off or turned down low
- Take cool baths or showers or reduce your body temperature with cool wet towels or cold gel packs draped around your neck
- Eat light, cold meals and avoid using your oven
- Avoid even moderately intense physical exercise
- If you are taking medication, check with your physician or pharmacist about possible side effects related to intense temperatures. Some medications make it difficult for the body to regulate its temperature
- Check up on friends, family and/or neighbours, regularly who may be at high risk during a heat event.
- Do not leave people or pets in parked vehicles as they can get very hot!
- If you experience rapid breathing or pulse, nausea, weakness/fainting, headache, confusion or are more tired than usual, seek professional consultation
If you are out and about Belleville on August 25th, you may encounter one of our wonderful volunteers participating in a “Tag Day” for Community Care for South Hastings. Please stop and chat to them to learn more about our programs and services, and if possible, leave them with a donation. If you are interested in volunteering for a two hour shift that day, please contact Raven at 613-969-0130.