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Stay Safe in Extreme Heat

June 22, 2022

Over this past week, temperatures in the Chicago area skyrocketed up to 100. Given the mild temperatures the week before, this gave many residents whiplash—especially those without central air. A great deal of Chicago homes are older, and as a result, equipped with air conditioning.

This is a problem for anyone living in these scenarios, but especially senior citizens. Older adults can’t adjust to the sudden, extreme shifts in temperature as well as younger people. This could be due to their medications or any chronic illnesses they deal with.

Whether you’re a senior citizen or caring for a loved one, stay safe in extreme heat by keeping in mind these tips.

Ahead of time: keep an eye on National Weather Service advisories

Meteorologists can accurately predict the temperature as far out as two weeks. That means that if the forecast is set to include excessive heat, they can warn the public well in advance. Turn on your local news for the weather, or look up the weather online, and keep an eye out for these three terms:

  • Be aware– Excessive heat outlook: you’ll hear this term when the potential for excessive is within the next three to seven days, allowing you ample time to prepare.
  • Prepare– Excessive heat watch: you’ll hear this term when excessive heat is likely within the next 24-72 hours.
  • Excessive heat warning/advisory: you’ll hear this term when an excessive heat event will occur within the next 12 hours. Take necessary precautions to avoid heat-related illness.

Best ways to keep cool in extreme heat

Extreme heat events are not the time to push yourself. All of the following bullet points can be broken down into two categories—take it easy, and listen to your body.

  • Keep hydrated. Fill a water bottle with cold water and keep it with you at all times. The average person needs to drink about three-quarters of a gallon of water a day. On days with extreme heat, you should drink more. By the time you’re thirsty, you may already be experiencing mild dehydration.
  • Don’t be stingy with the air conditioning. If you have an air conditioning unit, you already know air conditioning can be expensive to run. You might be hesitant to run your air conditioning, but if a heat index of over 100 is expected, you need to bite the bullet. Start running your air conditioning before the hottest part of the day, as the hotter it is, the harder your air conditioning will have to work.
  • Have a cool place to escape to. If you don’t have air conditioning in your home, don’t suffer in the heat. Find a place where you can spend a few hours and cool down. This could be a friend or relative’s home, a shopping mall, or a public library.
  • Avoid using the oven or stove to prepare meals. While this is one of the more difficult tips to keep on top of, cooking will only heat up the house even more. Prior to the heat wave, prepare a few meals you can heat up in the microwave. Also consider prepare meals that could be eaten cold (overnight oats, salad, smoothies, etc).
  • Wear light clothing. Loose-fitting, light clothes will help keep you cool as temperatures rise. Your clothes should not only be lightweight, but light in color. Darker clothes soak in the light of the sun and make you warmer.

Signs of Heat-Related Illness

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are two dangerous conditions, especially for senior citizens. Know these signs of heat-related illness so you can better determine how severe your, or your loved one’s symptoms are.

  • Where heat stroke and heat exhaustion overlap: both heat-related illnesses have symptoms of dizziness, headache, fainting, and nausea.
  • Where heat stroke and heat exhaustion differ:
    • Heat exhaustion: Heavy sweating, muscle cramps, cold/pale/clammy skin, fast but weak pulse. According to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health (OASH), you should treat heat exhaustion by moving to a cool place and drinking water. Seek medical help if you start throwing up or your symptoms get worse.
    • Heat stroke: the key indicating factor of heat stroke is an internal temperature of over 103 degrees. Other symptoms include hot and red skin, a fast and strong pulse, chills, and confusion/agitation. According to OASH, if you or a loved one is experiencing signs of heat stroke, call 911 and treat by moving to a cooler location.

This summer, stay safe and cool! If you’re worried about your elderly loved one during the summer, an in-home care workers is a great way to calm your nerves. Our staff will help your loved one with their personal care needs, errands, light housekeeping, and more.

Find out how Home Care Powered by AUAF can help your loved one by calling 847-996-9579.

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