As the summer continues to usher in hot temperatures with high humidity, the departments of Aging and Health are urging all Pennsylvanians but especially older adults to take steps to keep themselves and their loved ones safe from potentially deadly heat-related illnesses.
Senior’s Lack of Heating Beating Appliances
Seniors may be less able to respond to extreme temperatures and taking certain medication can affect how a person’s body reacts to heat. In a lot of cases, many seniors may not have access to fans, air conditioners, or other support options to adequately get through a period of extreme heat. It is important that family members, friends, or even trusted neighbors check on our elders to make sure they stay cool and are managing well.
Local Area Agencies
Pennsylvania’s network of Area Agencies on Aging is a great resource for older adults to learn about senior community centers acting as cooling stations in their neighborhood and other supports that may be available. Seniors can also check with their local municipality to find out if there are libraries, churches, or other facilities that may be offering opportunities to keep cool.
Safety Tips to Avoid Heat-Related Illnesses
- Drink plenty of water and do not wait until you are thirsty to drink more fluids;
- Avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar, as they can cause dehydration (loss of body fluids);
- Stay indoors in air conditioning as much as possible – this is the best way to protect against heat-related illness and death;
- Avoid long periods in the direct sun or in unventilated rooms;
- If you must be outside in the heat, reschedule activities for cooler times of the day, and try to rest often in shady areas;
- Dress in light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses – and use a sunscreen of SPF15 or higher;
- Take frequent baths or showers and remain in a cool place;
- Check on those who might be more at risk from high temperatures like infants, children, or older individuals; and
- Never leave children or pets inside vehicles.
The most common heat-related illnesses are heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. Warning signs include extreme body temperature, rapid pulse, throbbing headache, dizziness, and confusion. If you or your loved ones develop heat stroke symptoms, get medical assistance right away. Heat exhaustion symptoms include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, and fainting.
For more information, visit the Department of Health’s website or call 1-877-PA-HEALTH
(1-877-724-3258). Older adults can visit the Department of Aging’s website to find their local Area Agency on Aging.