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Published on June 27, 2016

Too hot to handle: 10 tips for staying safe in the heat

Every summer you hear about people who’ve gotten sick, and sometimes even died, from the heat. Older adults, in particular, are at risk.

“That’s because as we get older, our bodies don’t adjust well to sudden changes in temperature,” says David Agosto, Mercy LIFE Nurse Practitioner. “Certain medical conditions and some prescription drugs can add to this effect. The result is that older adults are more susceptible to heat-related illness.”

To help yourself stay cool when things get hot this summer:

  1. Cover sunny windows in your home with curtains or shades during the day, and open your windows at night.
  2. Drink cool beverages, such as water, even if you’re not thirsty. Heat tends to make you lose fluids. But stay away from alcohol or drinks that have caffeine or a lot of sugar in them. If your doctor has told you to limit your liquids—or has you take water pills—ask what you should do when it’s hot.
  3. Use the oven sparingly, if at all. “Keep in mind that we serve meals at the Mercy LIFE Adult Day Centers,” says Agosto. “So you can enjoy a meal without having to cook or heat up your house.”
  4. Take a cool shower or bath.
  5. Use an electric fan—but don’t depend on that alone when it’s really hot.
  6. Don’t have air-conditioning? Spend at least a few hours in a place that does, such as a mall, library or Mercy LIFE center.
  7. If you go out when the heat and humidity are high, wear lightweight clothes and light colors.
  8. Stay in the shade as much as you can. And try to stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day—between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
  9. Avoid waiting in the sun for a bus. Call a taxi or a friend.
  10. Don’t try to exercise or do a lot of activities when it’s hot.
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