When the weather gets hot, especially during a heatwave, seniors are especially susceptible to heat-related illnesses or death from dehydration. If you’re an older adult, and you’re in an area that’s going through a heatwave, use the following tips to stay as cool as possible and remain safe until the weather subsides.
Stay Out of the Sun as Much as Possible
Avoiding direct sunlight is crucial. Any errands should be run early in the morning before it heats up for the day if possible. During the hottest parts of the day, avoid going outside unless it’s necessary. There are plenty of activities to do indoors, and you’ll avoid the direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day. Seniors who receive assistance from Pegasus Senoir Living, for instance, can take advantage of indoor activities to stay busy, have fun, and keep out of the sun.
Drink Plenty of Water
Even if you don’t really feel thirsty, drink water regularly throughout the day. Water helps keep the body hydrated and can replace electrolytes lost through sweat. Other clear liquids, especially those designed to replenish electrolytes, are fine to drink. Ice water can help you cool down further, but even room-temperature water will help you avoid dehydration.
Avoid Drinking Caffeine or Alcohol
Caffeine and alcohol are both diuretics, which means they will cause dehydration. Even if you don’t feel like they’re having an impact, those drinks are causing you to be less hydrated, and you’ll need to drink more water to make up for what is lost. Avoid both caffeine and alcohol during the heatwave or anytime it’s very hot outside.
Turn On Fans Around the Home
Fans improve air circulation throughout the home. Circulating air helps to remove sweat and keeps the body cooler even without the air conditioning running. If you don’t have air conditioning, place a bucket of ice behind a box fan and let the fan run until the ice has melted. The air from the melting ice will be pushed through the room, helping make the home’s air cooler. At night, when it’s cooler, open the windows and use box fans to bring in the cooler air.
Sit in the Bathtub or Put Feet in Water
Cooling down the feet can help cool the whole body. When it’s really hot outside, place your feet in cool or cold water to help cool down completely. In extreme heat, it might feel great to stick your feet in a container with ice water to cool them down as fast as possible. If you’re sweating a lot and want to take a shower, take a cold shower to cool your entire body.
Wear Loose-Fitting Clothes
When it’s hot outside, the least-restrictive clothes are best. Choose loose-fitting clothing to allow air circulation underneath the clothes and around your body. Cotton is a breathable fabric, so this can also help promote air circulation around your body and keep you cooler. Avoid synthetic clothes as they can trap heat against your skin and cause you to dehydrate faster.
Block the Sun From the Home
While heat outside is going to heat up the inside of the home, there are some ways to minimize this and keep the home cooler. One way is to block the sun from the home as much as possible. Add blackout curtains to all of the windows to minimize the amount of sunlight that can enter the home, and keep them closed throughout the day. Though it will be darker inside the home, it will also be a lot cooler.
Heat rises, so the bottom of the house is going to be the coolest. If you’re in a two-story house, try to spend as much time downstairs as possible as it’ll be cooler than upstairs. If you’re in a one-story house, try to sit on chairs that are lower to the ground or sit on the floor if possible to avoid some of the heat. Depending on your home, this could make quite a bit of difference, especially if you can sit on the floor directly in front of a fan.
Avoid Using the Oven or Stove
The oven and stove are going to heat up the home quite a bit while they’re in use, so it’s better to avoid using them if possible during a heatwave. If they do need to be used, try to use them during the coolest part of the day, early in the morning, or later in the evening, to minimize the impact and turn them off as soon as possible. Instead of relying on the stove, eat smaller meals throughout the day and choose plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables that can be eaten right out of the refrigerator are going to help you stay cooler, especially if they have lots of cool juices like strawberries or watermelons
Know the Symptoms of Dehydration
Despite doing as much as possible to keep cool, it’s possible you might end up with dehydration. Signs of dehydration include not going to the bathroom as often, feeling dizzy, a rapid heartbeat, breathing rapidly, or fainting. If you do notice any of these signs, take steps to cool down and seek medical attention quickly. While it might not appear very serious, dehydration can become much worse very quickly and lead to serious medical complications or death. Getting help right away can enable you to ensure you recover from the dehydration as fast as possible.
When it’s hot outside, it’s best to be in a place that has air conditioning. However, if your air conditioning goes out or you’re in a home that doesn’t have air conditioning, there are still ways to keep cool and avoid serious medical issues. Use the tips here to stay as cool as possible throughout the heatwave and be sure to ask for help if you do experience any medical issues or signs of dehydration so you can start recovering and feeling better as fast as possible.