Elderly at Risk With Temperatures Soaring: How to Avoid Heat Stroke
The entire globe has been experiencing a recent rash of heat waves, which leads to an important question: how do you avoid a heat stroke during times of extremely high temperatures? Heat-related illness and the elderly can be an especially fatal mix, so knowing the signs and symptoms of heat strokes and heat exhaustion is important to safeguard your health or the health of your loved ones.
Why are the elderly more at risk in hot conditions? As people age, their bodies lose the ability to regulate their body temperature in hot weather. Hot weather and humidity can also worsen preexisting medical conditions, such as high blood pressure and heart, lung, and kidney conditions. Taking steps to avoid heat-related illnesses is the best way to avoid a trip to the hospital.
How do you prevent a heat stroke? Below are some helpful tips on how to stay safe during heat waves.
- Stay in AC. The most surefire way to do this would be to stay in an air-conditioned place. If your house does not have air conditioning, public places like malls or library may provide some relief. If you rent your unit and your AC is broken, your landlord is probably liable for fixing it in a timely manner to ensure that your place is "habitable."
- Turn on the fan. Fans may be a good alternative for those who do not have air conditioning units in their home but want to stay cool. Combining airflow with cool water and cold compresses can make up for the lack of air conditioning, and augment the body's ability to stay cool during extreme heat.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Drink plenty of cool water, even if you do not feel thirsty. If you've been sweating heavily, sports drinks are great way to replenish vital electrolytes.
- Don't wear tight or heavy clothes. Loose-fitting clothes will be lighter, and will feel less hot. Even the color of your clothing may be a factor, if you're in the sun: wear lighter colors, and avoid black outdoors.
- Cool water. Cool water is a necessity if your body temperature rises and you don't have air conditioning. Take a cool shower and take advantage of evaporative cooling by wetting a cloth and holding it against your wrist, neck, and other areas with lots of blood flow.
- Look out for symptoms. Some of the symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, goosebumps, headache, muscle cramps, nausea, and dizziness. Some of the symptoms of heat stroke include dry skin, convulsions, headaches, disorientation, or chills.
What should you do if someone you know is showing signs of heat exhaustion or stroke? Take some action, including maybe submersion in some cool water, put them in a cool shower, or apply some cold compresses or wet towels.
Additionally, remember that heat strokes and heat exhaustion can hit anybody — not just the elderly. It's probably impossible to avoid heat strokes entirely in all situations, particularly during periods of extreme heat. If someone is displaying symptoms that amount to an emergency, call 911 to seek medical help.
- Older Adult Law Resources (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
- Heat Stress: OSHA Regulations (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
- Can I Sue for a Heatstroke Injury? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life blog)
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