We’re well into the beginning of summer, and what better way to celebrate than by spending time in the sun? It’s good, though, to keep in mind our health and safety when heading into the heat. Whether you are elderly yourself, or an in-home caregiver, you’ll want to prepare for and be aware of these heat-related health issues by taking steps that include the following.
Be sure to always use plenty of sunblock before stepping outside. Depending on the fairness of a person’s skin, the recommended SPF (sun protection factor) may vary. You can determine which SPF to choose by factoring in what type of skin you have, and how long you plan to be spending in the sun. Of course, the longer you are in the sun, the more sunscreen should be re-applied.
Sometimes, unknowingly, you can become so distracted in your activities that you forget to stop to take a drink. Dehydration is especially likely in the heat, because sweating drains even more water out of you, requiring more to go in. Some symptoms of dehydration could include:
- Dry mouth
- The eyes stop making tears
- Sweating may stop
- Muscle cramps
- Heart palpitations
- Decreased urine output
Be sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, and remember that some drinks, like coffee, actually contribute to dehydration.
Heat stroke is the most serious form of heat injury, and is to be considered a medical emergency. If you suspect that someone has heat stroke (or sunstroke) you should call 911 immediately and render first aid yourself until the paramedics arrive. It is considered so serious because it can cause damage to the brain or other internal organs. It occurs from a prolonged exposure to high temperatures in the heat. So if you live in an area where the temperatures rise above 90 degrees often, you should be especially careful. Symptoms of heat stroke include:
- Throbbing headache
- Dizziness and light-headedness
- Lack of sweating despite the heat
- Red, hot, and dry skin
- Muscle weakness or cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid heartbeat, which may be either strong or weak
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- Behavioral changes such as confusion, disorientation, or staggering
- A temperature of 105+