Summer is approaching! After a long Iowa winter, most folks are looking forward to being outside to enjoy nice, warm weather and the activities that summer brings! With rising temperatures, it is still important to keep in mind some safety tips associated with our hot, humid weather that can keep you and your loved ones safe this season.
While every age can be affected by both heat exhaustion or stroke, older adults are at an even higher risk because they are unable to adjust as well as younger people to sudden changes in temperature, are more likely to have chronic medical conditions that change the body’s response to heat and are more likely to take medications that affect the body’s ability to control both temperature and sweat.
Older people, particularly those at special risk, should stay indoors on particularly hot and humid days, especially when there is an air pollution alert in effect. To stay cool, drink plenty of fluids and wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothes in natural fabrics. People without fans or air conditioners should keep their homes as cool as possible or go someplace cool. Senior centers, religious groups, and social service organizations in many communities provide cooling centers when the temperatures rise. Or visit public air-conditioned places such as shopping malls, movie theaters, or libraries.
If you suspect that someone is suffering from a heat-related illness:
- Call 911 if you suspect heat stroke.
- Get the person out of the heat and into a shady, air-conditioned or other cool place. Urge them to lie down.
- If the person can swallow safely, offer fluids such as water and fruit or vegetable juices, but not alcohol or caffeine.
- Apply a cold, wet cloth to the wrists, neck, armpits, and groin. These are places where blood passes close to the surface of the skin, and a cold cloth can help cool the blood.
- Encourage the person to shower, bathe, or sponge off with cool water if it is safe to do so.