Visit older adults at least twice a day and watch for signs of heat stress. Inform your loved ones of the following preventative steps:
- Drink cool (not extremely cold, which can cause cramps), nonalcoholic beverages. Discuss amounts with a health care provider if your loved one is limited in how much he should drink or is taking water pills.
- Wear lightweight, breathable clothing.
- Rest and avoid strenuous activities.
- Stay indoors during the hottest part of the day, preferably in an air-conditioned environment.
- Take cool baths or showers.
- Never leave an elderly person (or pet or child) in a car if you run into a store. The temperature inside a car can rise 19 degrees within 10 minutes and 29 degrees in 20 minutes.
- Do not leave a car running with air conditioning on, because passengers can be exposed to carbon monoxide while sitting inside the car.
This heat-related illness can develop after lengthy exposure to high temperatures combined with inadequate or unbalanced fluid replacement. Signs include:
- Heavy sweating, paleness or cool, moist skin.
- Fast, shallow breathing.
- Fast, weak pulse.
- Muscle cramps.
- Headache, dizziness, nausea or vomiting.
- Fatigue, weakness or fainting.
- A body temperature above 103 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Red, hot, dry skin that is not sweating.
- Rapid, shallow breathing.
- A strong and rapid pulse.
- Headache, dizziness or nausea.
If you notice signs of severe heat stress, ask someone to call 911 while you begin cooling efforts. If emergency personnel are delayed, ask someone to call a hospital emergency room.
- Get the person to a shaded area.
- Cool rapidly, using a tub of cool water, a shower, a garden hose or even a sponge.
- Continue these cooling efforts until body temperature drops to at least 101 degrees Fahrenheit.
|Dianna Malkowski, PA-C|
Sources: The Weather Channel: 2011 Heat Superlatives; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Heat Stress in the Elderly; Mayo Clinic: Heatstroke; San Francisco State University Department of Geosciences