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Keeping Cool in Hot Weather – Tips and Warnings

 

Whether it is a hot summer or a freak heat wave, the elderly are more prone to heat-related illnesses than younger adults. The body has several mechanisms to keep the core temperature within the normal range but may not always be working as it should in seniors. Watching the mercury and heeding warnings by taking precautions in hot weather can make the difference between life and death. Fortunately keeping cool does is a simple matter. It may not always help you feel cool and comfortable but these simple tips can ensure that your body temperature does not reach dangerously high levels which can be fatal.

Normally the body has temperature control centers that takes the necessary steps to avoid overheating. Blood vessels in the skin dilate and this allows more body heat to be passed out into the environment. Perspiration helps with cooling by dissipating heat when it evaporates. Heat is even passed out in small quantities through the exhaled air from the lungs. However, in the elderly the body’s ability to initiate these thermoregulatory measures is impaired due to age, disease and sometimes with the use of certain medication. Therefore additional measures to keep cool in hot weather are essential for seniors.

Avoid the Sun

Although the temperature may also be high in the shade, staying out of direct sunlight is one way of avoiding the worst of the hot weather. Ideally you should stay indoors away from the direct sunlight but if you have to go outdoors, try to shield yourself with large brim hats and umbrellas. Light colored clothing can also help in reflecting some of the light. Take the opportunity to rest in the shade of trees and buildings as often as possible if outdoors. The worst time to be out in the sun in most regions is during 10am to 3pm. If you have to go out, try to do so before or after these times in the day.

Opt for Air Conditioning

Air conditioning controls the temperature indoors and is very effective in doing so. Even if you do not have an air conditioner within your home, spending the day in a building where these is air conditioning can make all the difference. A trip to the mall or library means you can benefit from air conditioning without having to buy a unit for your home. Air conditioning has the added advantage of drying the air in a room which assists with cooling. It is difficult for the body to keep cool in humid hot weather compared to dry hot climates.

Moist Compresses and Water Activities

Water is useful in helping the body disperse heat. Soaking in a cool water bath or relaxing in a pool is very effective in cooling the body. The water needs to be just a few degrees lower than body heat and it is not a good idea to immerse in cold water. Moist compresses with cool water is also useful. It acts like sweat and when the water evaporates, heat is dissipated along with it. However, ice should never be applied directly to the skin.

Rest and Light Activity

It is best to rest as much as possible during hot weather. If you have be active then only undertake light tasks. The more active you are, the more heat the body generates. The build up of heat occurs from within the body and not just on the surface. Therefore it takes longer to dissipate this heat. There is a constant risk of dehydration in hot weather but this risk increases significantly in a person who is physically active at the time. Activities such as exercising outdoors and doing heavy manual labor in the sun are the most dangerous.


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