While the sultry days of summer are upon us, so are risks of heat-related illnesses, especially for seniors.
Temperatures above 85 degrees for three or more consecutive days can pose heat-related dangers. People most at risk for heat illnesses include the elderly, small children and those taking certain kinds of medicine.
In order to avoid heat-related problems, seniors should reduce or eliminate strenuous activity during the hottest time of the day, wear light-colored and light-weight clothing, drink plenty of water and stay out of the sun.
Heat illnesses are usually caused by the body's inability to shed enough heat by sweating or when a salt imbalance occurs from too much sweating. Here is what you can do to protect yourself and others:
Drink lots of fluid, especially if you are forced to be out in the sun.
Avoid alcoholic beverages, which speed up dehydration.
Check on your neighbors several times during the day. This is especially important if they are older, in poor health and live alone.
If you don't have air conditioning, fasten a wet sheet to the window and let the breeze blow through it, or hang a wet sheet between two chairs in front of your fan.
Use a circulating fan to keep air moving inside your home.
If you must be outdoors, stay in the shade as much as possible.
Kansas senior citizens who need assistance in obtaining fans should contact their local Area Agency on Aging or a chapter of the Red Cross.