Safety Tips for Seniors in Extreme Heat
With the onset of the summer month seniors are at higher risk to suffer the dangerous effects of extreme heat, even if they are healthy and active people. The sense of physical well-being is never an absolute guarantee against the effects of high temperatures.
Minimal to moderate hydration in older persons can contribute to increase the risk of suffering a profound dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Additionally, the brains of the older population often do not accurately perceive changes in temperature. Chronic medical conditions may change the body’s perception of temperature and some prescription medication may impair the body’s ability to absorb fluids, inhibit perspiration and create extreme sensitivity to the sun. Check with your physician for potential side effects of prescribed medication.
According to a federal study, 40% of the heat-related deaths occur among people in 65 years and older population.
Seniors should take care to avoid outdoor activity during the hottest part of the day noon-4pm, drink frequent cool non-alcoholic beverages, avoid heavy meals before going outdoors as well as wear light weight, light colored clothing and a hat.
Be aware of the warning signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke including red, dry, hot skin with no sweating; rapid strong pulse; throbbing headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness or confusion.
In the event you suspect a heat related crisis; immediately contact emergency services, move to a shady area or indoors immediately, douse the person with cool water by any means available-water hose, shower, wrap up in cool damp sheet and offer sips of cool non-alcoholic beverage.
You can still enjoy the lazy days of summer with a few simple precautions!
Safety Tips for Seniors in the Winter Months
Even seniors in good health should take extra precautions in the winter months. The risk of falls with injuries and hypothermia are more pronounced as we age. Most home fires occur during the winter, and seniors are three times more likely to be injured in a home fire. Also, heaters and household appliances that are fueled by gas, oil, kerosene or wood can produce deadly carbon monoxide gas.
Please review the following tips to help you and your loved one stay happy and healthy until the first flowers of spring emerge:
- Being independent doesn’t mean “going it alone” against Old Man Winter. Children, relatives and neighbors should check on seniors regularly and help where needed during the winter season.
- Avoid going outside during extreme cold. If you must be outside, dress in layers and cover all exposed skin. Water repellant outer layers and boots will help.
- Conserve interior heat by closing doors to rooms not used daily. Cover windows with draperies and place towels along cracks at the bottom of doors.
- Remain hydrated! Prepare vegetable-laden stews and soups made with reduced-sodium broths. Limit alcohol, caffeine and cigarette smoking.
- Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on every level of the home; check the batteries monthly, and change them at least annually.
- Remember that space heaters need space. Keep flammable items at least three feet away from the heater. If you buy a new one get the type that automatically turns off in the event it tips over.
- Take extra care when using fireplaces, wood stoves, candles and space heaters. Have your wood stove or fireplace inspected and cleaned before use and install protective screening for sparks.
- Get an approved fire extinguisher for the home; learn how to use it and check it annually.