14 Safety Tips for a Hassle-Free Summer
Getting ready for the summer months means preparing for the possibility of heat waves. The peak summer months, June, July, and August, can bring unbearable heat. As this period could involve a sudden change in temperature, older adults, who are more prone to heat stress, should ensure safety while stepping outdoors. So, here are some summer safety tips for seniors to stay protected in hot weather without worrying about health risks.
Avoid excessive outdoor activities
Taking up light chores in and outside the house can help you remain active and get some cardio during the day. But during summer, it is best to spread out all the outdoor tasks with adequate breaks in between to avoid being overwhelmed by the changes in weather. Heat can have a huge impact on the body temperature, and excessive exposure to the sun can increase the chances of heat stroke, hyperthermia, heat cramps, and heat exhaustion. So, it is better to schedule outdoor activities for early morning or late evening when the temperature dips. Also, avoiding consecutive tasks can give you a chance to rest and hydrate in between.
What temperature is too hot for the elderly? While there is no specific number, the sun is at its peak between 10 am and 4 pm, especially during the summer months. Limiting sun exposure should be the primary safety measure here. One of the best summer safety tips is to dress well and cover as much skin as possible. You can also don a hat that shields you from the direct heat while doing chores outdoors. You should avoid wearing black as darker colors absorb heat. So, you should consider wearing light colors and loose-fitting clothes, especially outdoors. Apart from clothing, you should invest in good sunblock with UVA and UVB protection to prevent sunburn and the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays. Many skin-safe formulas are designed for seniors with problems like eczema. However, it is best to consult a skin expert and choose a suitable sunscreen.
Drink plenty of water
Another piece of advice for the elderly to follow during summer is to drink a lot of water. One of the major concerns in hot weather is dehydration. Further, with age, the sensation of thirst can change, and older adults may not recognize thirst as they once did; this could reduce water intake. Not drinking enough water impacts vital circulatory functions and increases the risk of health complications. Water is also required to maintain an electrolyte balance to promote better cognitive and physical functions. While working in the heat, the body loses a lot of water throughout the day due to sweating. So, it is important to replenish the lost fluids. Some prescription options can also make the body lose natural fluids, which should be replenished with frequent hydration. You can opt for other fluids to beat the summer heat, like fresh coconut water, lime juice, and orange juice. Choose beverages rich in nutrients and minerals that can restore fluid balance.
Choose nutrient-rich foods
In addition to drinking plenty of water, you should have more fruits that hydrate the body, helping it deal with heat. Melons are one of the best superfoods for beating the summer heat. The fruit is a low-calorie, refreshing snack that immediately helps the body cool down. Watermelon, honeydew melons, and cantaloupes are also rich in nutrients that help boost immunity and ward off diseases. Experts recommend choosing assorted berries rich in antioxidants to help boost immunity and prevent cell damage caused by exposure to UV radiation. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cranberries, and strawberries, are all excellent fruits to add to daily meals.
Enjoy cold treats
A refreshing, ice-cold drink, flavored popsicles, ice cream, or even flavored yogurt can also help you stay cool in the extreme heat. Seniors with diabetes should opt for sugar-free options that are easily available at the local stores. Nutritionists also suggest making refreshing summer smoothies using fresh fruits that are nutritious and can help cool down the body. Homemade drinks are also free of preservatives and additives, so you can enjoy these refreshments without worrying about side effects. Popular ingredients for homemade smoothies include mangoes, pineapple, banana, and assorted berries. You can also make smoothies with nutrient-dense green veggies like spinach, kale, cucumber, and mint blended with water and ice cubes. You can find hundreds of healthy summer smoothie recipes with step-by-step instructions online.
Exercise with caution
If you love to stay active and exercise throughout the year, you must be extra careful about your workout routine in the peak summer months. Exercise can increase the heart rate and core temperature of the body, making you sweat more as the body tries to cool down naturally. However, when exercising on excessively hot days, sweating too much is a possibility that can lead to rapid fluid loss. Here, changing the time and duration of physical exercise can also help prevent heat exhaustion. So, you can consider working out early in the morning or enjoying a late evening session. You should also avoid vigorous exercises during the day to prevent exhaustion. If you like engaging in sports, schedule games before 10 am or after 4 pm to avoid peak sunlight hours.
One of the more useful summer safety tips for seniors is to protect your eyes from extreme heat. Here, polarized sunglasses can help filter harmful UV rays and lower the intensity of light hitting the retina. Seniors who have recently undergone surgery for correcting cataracts or age-related macular degeneration should be extra vigilant about protecting the eyes as well. Even if just stepping outside for a short duration to get some work done in the yard or driveway, it is advisable to wear protective glasses. You can choose from classic styles when it comes to polarized sunglasses, like those by Ray Ban or Vincent Chase. But it is better to use wrap-around sunglasses that provide protection on all sides. Further, during peak summer days, the risk of a condition called dry eye syndrome might increase. This develops when the natural tears cannot adequately lubricate the eyes. Ophthalmologists recommend eye drops to keep the eyes lubricated and prevent dryness from causing painful friction. But wrap-around glasses can help you prevent dry eye symptoms from worsening and retain moisture.
Wear comfortable footwear
The ground, especially concrete, can get heated quickly under direct sunlight. So, stepping outside in thin slippers or barefoot is a big no-no during summer. So, the footwear you use can make a lot of difference in preventing falls and discomfort while walking. Consider getting shoes that fit well and protect the feet from the sun. Here, slip-on loafers can be more convenient than shoes with laces. The heat also gets trapped inside completely closed shoes. So, it is better to put on airy and comfortable footwear that allows good airflow. Perforated loafers, sandals, and even Crocs are great summer shoes that allow the feet to stay cool without compromising grip.
Identify the signs of heat exhaustion
Heatstroke or heat exhaustion comes with a number of visible signs. When experiencing extreme weather, you should be on the lookout for obvious signs, like rapid heartbeat, flushed or red skin, extreme tiredness, headache, confusion, dizziness, and nausea. Heat exhaustion triggers a combination of these symptoms that can get worse really quickly. As soon as something goes wrong, experts recommend finding a cool spot and sitting or lying down to lower the body temperature and heart rate. Next, you should hydrate quickly with water or an electrolyte drink. If there are signs of sunburn, apply a cold compress to the affected area. Once stabilized, it is important to visit the nearest emergency center or arrange for a doctor to visit at home to examine the signs. Timely intervention can prevent serious health complications, so if prone to heat exhaustion, keep an eye out for changes in energy levels and other symptoms when stepping outside.
Check for side effects of prescriptions
Doctors prescribe a number of treatment options to deal with age- and lifestyle-related issues like high blood pressure, diabetes, and other common metabolic or gastrointestinal disorders. Many prescriptions can have side effects like dehydration and increased sensitivity to heat, increasing the risk of heatstroke. So, it is important to discuss the side effects and required precautions with a doctor before taking prescriptions. You can also consider viable alternatives that do not carry such risks during the summer. Reviewing all the prescriptions is a key preventive measure when undergoing treatment for illnesses. Doctors may also recommend changes in daily nutrition to deal with any side effects triggered by changes in weather.
Take breaks while traveling
The risk of developing blood clots increases in summer, and older adults are more likely to be affected by conditions that cause clotting, like deep vein thrombosis. Blood clots can develop as a result of sitting for long periods without moving, like when traveling. Here, long drives while sitting in the back seat of the car can be really taxing and increase the risk of clotting. So, you should schedule enough breaks on the trip. Getting up and moving around once in a while can allow good blood circulation. If at any point on a road trip, you feel uncomfortable, stop the car, stretch your legs, and move out of the car to get some fresh air. Keep an eye out for the signs of heat exhaustion. Also, before leaving for a summer trip, make a list of emergency services en route if you require professional care. Remember, being vigilant can help you manage such health risks and prevent the symptoms from worsening.
Check weather updates regularly
Weather forecasts and updates can be useful, especially when heading out during peak summertime. The estimates for peak temperature can help you carefully plan activities during the day. The national weather service monitors all changes in temperature to issue warnings. So, summer preparation should involve checking the daily forecast. Local news channels and the weather advisory board generally offer weather watches, warnings, and advisories to alert residents of potential heat waves and dry spells. State departments even offer customized weather toolkits that list the dos and don’ts during severe weather conditions. Planning ahead can ensure you are safe and not at risk of heat-related illnesses.
Prepare an emergency kit
Heat waves can be a precursor to unexpected natural disasters, usually triggered by extreme changes in temperature. So, it is important to stay indoors and avoid exposure during peak days. In addition, disaster management experts also recommend having an emergency preparedness kit containing essential foods, drinks, sanitary utilities, clothing, and special items you may need during extreme weather conditions. The kits must also have a first aid box with wipes, bandages, antibacterial cleaners, and topical ointments to take care of sunburn or other such injuries. Heat waves that trigger blackouts during summer can affect food stock supplies, so be prepared for such situations. For provisions, stock up on canned foods and bottled drinks with a decent shelf life. While many heat waves may not be as extreme as advertised, it does not hurt to be well-equipped to deal with rapid changes in weather that keep you indoors.
Stay indoors as much as possible
A key summertime safety tip for older adults is to stay indoors as much as possible. You should ensure there is plenty of cross ventilation indoors to prevent hot air from making you uncomfortable. Use air conditioning sparsely before and after stepping out so that the abrupt change from warm to cold air, or vice versa, does not cause sudden discomfort. Additionally, you should also ensure the air conditioner ducts and vents are cleaned to enable better air quality and circulation indoors.
These safety tips can help you make the most of summer without worrying about health risks. You should primarily protect your skin from extreme heat and pick the ideal clothes to stay comfortable during the hottest months of the year. Such preventive measures can keep heat-related illnesses, exhaustion, and dehydration at bay.