As we continue into summer, many of us have already been on vacation, visiting family and friends, all the while experiencing flooding and hot weather. We want to enjoy our summer activities; however, we do need to be cautious and aware of the high temperatures. The days with high temperatures make it not only hot, but extremely dangerous for many folks. The National Weather service and local news will keep you updated if these conditions indicate danger, but each of us should be aware of these hazardous conditions, and what we can do to make ourselves more comfortable (and safe).
During high temperatures we need to remember to slow down. Reduce, eliminate or reschedule your strenuous activities until a cooler time of the day. Seniors, children and anyone with health problems should stay in the coolest available place we can, and that may or may not be our own homes. We know that some of our seniors do not have air conditioning in their homes, so I will take this opportunity to encourage them to visit their local center. Join us for lunch, games and activities while keeping cool. Our centers closing times may vary from center to center, but most are open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and several are open until as late as 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday (excluding major holidays). Call your local center for their hours of availability. In addition, many of the cities have designated sites for cooling centers, so check with your city to see where one may be close to you.
Some general safety tips during high heat include: slow down; reduce, eliminate or reschedule any strenuous activities you participate in until the coolest part of the day; dress for these hot days, wear lightweight, light colored clothing to help reflect the heat; stay hydrated, drink plenty of water (even if you don’t feel thirsty), but if you are on a fluid restrictive diet, be sure to check with your doctor before increasing the amount of water you drink. For menu planning, choose lighter foods such as fruits and salads. Prepare your meals outside on the grill or in a crockpot instead of using the oven. Don’t forget food safety in this hot weather as well. If you have an event that involves taking food somewhere — for an evening with friends and family, or even if you are just packing your lunch for the day — put the food in a cooler with ice or a cold pack, as foods can spoil quickly in hot weather. Seniors and anyone who may have health problems should stay in the coolest available place (again check out your local senior center; we would love to have you join us). If you are doing outside activities, such as watering your flowerbeds or gardens or even just sitting on the porch, minimize direct exposure to the sun and take breaks in the shade as much as possible.
Remember, safety first on these hot days. Stay out of the heat, and be safe. Your local center will provide a nice cool place to relax, get you involved in activities, programs and games, plus you have the opportunity for a great lunch and to visit with friends as well.
See you soon at the center!
According to the Missouri Department of Public Safety, 19 people died in Missouri as a result of heat-related causes in 2018. Of the 219 hyperthermia deaths in Missouri from 2010 to 2017, 97, or 44%, were people age 65 and older.
• Extreme heat can occur quickly and without warning.
• Older adults, children, and sick or overweight individuals are at greater risk from extreme heat.
• Humidity increases the feeling of heat as measured by a heat index.
IF YOU ARE UNDER AN EXTREME HEAT WARNING
• Find air conditioning — according to Missouri’s State Emergency Management Agency, the “lack of air conditioning or the refusal to use it for fear of higher utility bills” contributed to the number of hyperthermia deaths between 2010 and 2017.
• Avoid strenuous activities.
• Watch for heat illness.
• Wear light clothing.
• Check on family members and neighbors.
• Drink plenty of fluids.
• Watch for heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
• Never leave people or pets in a closed car.
HOW TO STAY SAFE WHEN EXTREME HEAT THREATENS
• Find places in your community where you can go to get cool.
• Keep your home cool by doing the following:
• Cover windows with drapes or shades.
• Weather-strip doors and windows.
• Use window reflectors, such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard, to reflect heat back outside.
• Add insulation to keep the heat out.
• Use attic fans to clear hot air.
• Install window air conditioners and insulate around them.
• Learn to recognize the signs of heat-related illness.
Be Safe DURING
• Never leave a child, adult or animal alone inside a vehicle on a warm day.
• Find places with air conditioning: Libraries, shopping malls and community centers can provide a cool place to take a break from the heat.
• If you’re outside, find shade. Wear a hat wide enough to protect your face.
• Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
• Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. If you or someone you care for is on a special diet, ask a doctor how best to accommodate it.
• Do not use electric fans when the temperature outside is more than 95 degrees, as this could increase the risk of heat-related illness. Fans create air flow and a false sense of comfort but do not reduce body temperature.
• Avoid high-energy activities.
• Check yourself, family members, and neighbors for signs of heat-related illness.
Above all else, recognize the signs of heat-related illness and the ways to respond to it:
Signs: Muscle pains or spasms in the stomach, arms, or legs
Actions: Go to a cooler location. Remove excess clothing. Take sips of cool sports drinks with salt and sugar. Get medical help if cramps last more than an hour.
Signs: Heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, or fainting
Actions: Go to an air-conditioned place and lie down. Loosen or remove clothing. Take a cool bath. Take sips of cool sports drinks with salt and sugar. Get medical help if symptoms get worse or last more than an hour.
Signs: Extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees) taken orally; red, hot, and dry skin with no sweat; rapid, strong pulse; dizziness; confusion; or unconsciousness
Actions: Call 911 or get the person to a hospital immediately. Cool down with whatever methods are available until medical help arrives.