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Tips to Stay Safe During Heatwaves

We are getting well into the summer months which means, hotter temperatures.  We’ve already seen a couple of heat waves come through California summer is officially only a few weeks old!  In addition to the heat, power outages can occur during these high-temperature periods.

Please take measures to stay cool and remain hydrated. Getting too hot can make you sick. You can become ill from the heat if your body can’t compensate for it and properly cool you off. As we age our bodies cannot handle the heat like they did when we were young.  Extreme heat can affect us in the following ways: The main things affecting your body’s ability to cool itself during extremely hot weather are:

  • High humidity. When the humidity is high, sweat won’t evaporate as quickly. This keeps your body from releasing heat as fast as it may need to. High humidity can cause you to sweat excessively which can lead to dehydration.  When your sweat does not evaporate quickly it can lead to feeling overly tired.
  • Personal factors. Age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, and prescription drug and alcohol use all can play a role in whether a person can cool off enough in very hot weather. Other factors that can play a role in adverse effects of heat would include fever, medical conditions, poor circulation, certain prescription drug and use of alcohol.
  • Muscle cramping may be an early sign of heat-related illness.

You are potentially at the highest risk for heat-related illness during these heatwaves. When it becomes hot outside, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you drinking enough water?
  • Do you have access to air conditioning?
  • Do you need help keeping cool?

You can take the following protective actions to prevent illness or death:

  • Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as you can. Air-conditioning is the number one way to protect yourself against heat-related illness or complications.
  • Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
  • Check on a friend or neighbor and have someone do the same for you.
  • Try not to use the stove or oven to cook—it will make you and your house hotter.
  • Try cool showers or baths to help you cool down.

Try to avoid going out in the hot sun, but If you need to go outside during hot weather:

  • Limit your outdoor activity, especially when the sun is hottest.
  • Wear and reapply sunscreen as indicated on the package.
  • Pace your activity, start activities slow and pick up the pace gradually.
  • Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Be careful in the sun to avoid sunburn. If you can see through your clothing you can get sunburned through them.

For additional tips from the CDC on keeping cool, click here.

To learn more about the services provided by our PACE program, click here.

Heat stress in older adults

Safety is key for seniors to live more independent lives in their homes and communities.  To help seniors stay safe during periods of high heat, here’s an article by the CDC regarding heat and older adults.

People aged 65 years or older are more prone to heat-related health problems. If you’re an older adult or a caretaker, review this page for information on how you or the person you’re caring for can stay safe during the heat.

Why are older adults more prone to heat stress?

  • Older adults do not adjust as well as young people to sudden changes in temperature.
  • They are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that changes normal body responses to heat.
  • They are more likely to take prescription medicines that affect the body’s ability to control its temperature or sweat.

Stay cool, stay hydrated

  • Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible. If your home doesn’t have air conditioning, contact your local health department or locate an air-conditioned shelter in your area.
  • Do not rely on a fan as your main cooling source when it’s really hot outside.
  • Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
    • If your doctor limits the amount of fluids you drink or has you on water pills, ask them how much you should drink during hot weather.
  • Don’t use the stove or oven to cook—it will make you and your house hotter.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
  • Do not engage in very strenuous activities and get plenty of rest.
  • Check on a friend or neighbor and have someone do the same for you.
  • Follow additional tips on how to prevent heat-related illness.

Stay informed

  • Check the local news for health and safety updates.
  • Seek medical care immediately if you have, or someone you know has, symptoms of heat-related illness like muscle cramps, headaches, nausea or vomiting.

As always, participants of WelbeHealth PACE programs can contact their center to find resources to stay cool during periods of extreme heat.  For more on the services our PACE program provides, click here.

 

HVAC Maintenance for Seniors

With the summer season in full swing, its important your air conditioner is in top form.  This is doubly important for the seniors that we serve, as summer typically bring with it increased cases of heatstroke.  Have your HVAC inspected and tuned by a certified technician.

What your tune-up should include

A technician should do the following during an A/C tune-up:

  • Inspect the entire system
  • Clean all coils
  • Clean and drain the condensate line
  • Lubricate moving mechanical parts
  • Replace the air filter
  • Check thermostat controls and system wiring
  • Inspect ductwork
  • Check fluid and pressure levels

The CDC also lists other reasons why maintaining your HVAC systems are important.  WelbeHealth wants to stress that an important part of living independently at home and in your communities includes doing so safely during the warmer months.  If you are having trouble keeping cool, contact us and we can help you find the resources available to you.

To learn more about the services PACE offers, click here.