Hot Weather Safety Tips

Hot Weather Safety Tips for Older AdultsHot Weather Safety Tips for Older Adults

Hot weather can be dangerous, especially for older adults. Every summer, nearly 200 Americans die of health problems caused by high heat and humidity —and most of them are 50 or older. Hot weather is more likely to cause health problems for older adults for a number of reasons. Physical changes that happen with age make older people less likely to notice when they feel hot, even when outside temperatures are high. They also can’t cool down as quickly or as well as younger people. Older adults are also less likely to feel thirsty, which means they’re more likely to become dehydrated (a loss of too much water in your body). Heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases common in later life also increase risks of heat-related problems. So do some medicines prescribed for these and other health problems, and many over-the-counter drugs. Some of the medicines that may have these side effects are water pills, allergy and sinus pills, and nerve medications.

Staying Safe When It’s Too Darn Hot

When temperatures climb above 90 degrees F (Fahrenheit), older adults need to take precautions. So check the outside temperature on summer days. If it’s above 90 degrees, older people should:


SPEND AS MUCH TIME AS POSSIBLE INSIDE
with the air conditioning on. If you don’t have an air conditioner, go somewhere that is air-conditioned, such as a shopping mall, library, senior center, or movie theatre. Fans can’t provide enough cooling if the temperature is in the 90s or higher. NOTE: The federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps adults 65 and older who have limited incomes cover the cost of air conditioners and utility bills. To reach your state’s LIHEAP program, call the toll-free number for your state’s energy services office. You can find your state’s number on the computer at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/liheap/grantees/states.html.

hat

STAY OUT OF THE SUN whenever you can, and wear loose, light-colored clothes (dark-colored clothes absorb heat) and a lightweight, broad-brimmed hat when you must go out. That will help you both stay cool and avoid sunburn. Being sunburned can also make it harder for your body to cool off. Use “broad spectrum” sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) 15 or higher.

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