Summer Heat Safety


Use these tips to continue your exercise routine. 

The summertime is a time of fun and relaxation for most people. But for seniors, the heat and sun can be dangerous if the proper precautions aren’t taken. Here are some great tips for a fun, safe summer. 

Stay Hydrated: Seniors are more susceptible to dehydration than younger people because they lose their ability to conserve water as they age. They also can become less aware of their thirst and have difficulty adjusting to temperature changes. Remember to drink water often, and be sure to pack some for those long summer drives. 

Talk to Your Doctor: Check with your medical team to make sure any medications you are on won’t be affected by higher temperatures. 

Keep Your Cool: Shopping malls, movie theaters and libraries provide welcome, cool spaces, and a great opportunity to get out of the house and get some exercise, without the exhaustion of the heat. “Seniors are much more vulnerable to the harmful effects of heat, as their bodies do not adjust as well to sudden changes in temperature. Some chronic medical conditions and prescription medications can impair the body’s ability to react efficiently to rising temperature.” (Kirby Pines have more than 2 miles of indoor walk ways!) 

Stay in Touch: High temperatures can be life-threatening for seniors. Let friends and family know when spending an extended period of time outdoors, even if you’re only gardening or walking. 

Wear the Right Stuff: Everyone, including seniors, should dress for the weather. When it’s warm outdoors, some people find natural fabrics (such as cotton) to be cooler than synthetic fibers. Wear light-colored and loose-fitting clothes to help feel cooler and more comfortable. Hats are also a great idea, especially for those with light colored hair and those with only distant memories of a full head of hair. 

Protect Your Eyes: Vision loss can be common among seniors, and too much exposure to the sun can irritate eyes and cause further damage. Wearing sunglasses can protect your eyes from harmful UV rays and preserve your vision. 

Couple walking outdoors

Know the Risks of Hyperthermia: During the summer, be particularly cautious about abnormally high body temperatures — a condition known as hyperthermia. Heat stroke is an advanced form of hyperthermia that can be life-threatening. Pay attention to these symptoms: • Body temperature greater than 104 degrees • A change in behavior, such as acting confused, agitated or grouchy • Dry, flushed skin • Nausea and vomiting • Headache • Heavy breathing or a rapid pulse • Not sweating, even if it’s hot outside • Fainting. “Elderly individuals have a harder time knowing when they are dehydrated and their bodies have more difficulty regulating their temperatures,” the Cleveland Clinic says. “As a result, they are more prone to heat stroke.” If you (or a loved one) start to feel any of these symptoms, ask for medical help and then get out of the heat, lie down and place ice packs on your body. 

Rub on Sunscreen: Everyone, young and old, should wear sunscreen when outdoors. 

Apply Bug Spray: The elderly are particularly prone to West Nile Virus and encephalitis, and if you spend a lot of time outdoors (particularly at night), use mosquito repellent to help reduce the risk of getting bit by a mosquito carrying this virus. 

Exercise Smart: If you enjoy outdoor activities such as walking or gardening, make sure to wear the proper clothing and protective gear. It is also important to keep track of time. Do not stay out for long periods and make sure to drink even more water than usual when exercising. Also consider getting outdoor exercise earlier in the morning or later in the evening when the sun is not at its peak. 

If you follow these tips, there’s no reason you can’t have an enjoyable and fun-filled summer!