This coming week our region is going to experience triple digit temperatures. It is imperative that older adults be careful during this heat wave. People over the age of 65 are less efficient in regulating body temperature because they don’t sweat as much as younger people and they store fat differently, which complicates heat regulation. As the air temperature rises so does the internal body temperature. For older adults, this can easily lead to heat exhaustion and potentially heat stroke.
Early warning signs of heat exhaustion, which may precede the more serious heat stroke, include excessive sweating, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache and muscle cramps. Then as exhaustion progresses, symptoms may progress to nausea, vomiting and fainting. Heat stroke, though, is more serious, and it can set in within 10-15 minutes. Heat stroke is caused when internal body temperature rises much faster than it’s lowered naturally. If the symptoms of heat stroke are present, call 911. They include extremely high body temperature, the absence of sweating, confusion, seizure and coma.
To help stay safe during extreme heat, take the following actions:
- Postpone outdoor games and activities and limit exposure to the sun.
- Drink plenty of water and avoid caffeine; limit alcoholic beverage intake.
- Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothing.
- Spend the warmest part of the day in temperature-controlled buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theaters, shopping malls, or community facilities.
- Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.