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7/27/2005 - Senior Heat Advisory

Around 200 people die each year during very hot weather. Most are over 50 years old. The temperature outside or inside does not have to hit 100° F for you to be at risk for a heat-related illness.

Things you can do to lower your risk of heat-related illness:

  1. Drink plenty of liquids — water or fruit and vegetable juices. Every day you should drink at least eight glasses to keep your body working properly. Heat tends to make you lose fluids so it is very important to drink at least that much, if not more, when it is hot. Avoid drinks containing caffeine or alcohol. They make you lose more fluids. If your doctor has told you to limit your liquids, ask him or her what you should do when it is very hot.
  2. • If you live in a home or apartment without fans or air conditioning, be sure to follow these steps to lower your chance of heat problems:

o open windows at night;

o create cross-ventilation by opening windows on two sides of the building;

o cover windows when they are in direct sunlight; and

o keep curtains, shades or blinds drawn during the hottest part of the day.

• Try to spend at least 2 hours a day (if possible during the hottest part of the day) some place air-conditioned — for example, the shopping mall, the movies, the library, a senior center, or a friend’s house if you don’t have air conditioning.

• Check with your local area agency on aging to see if there is a program that provides window air conditioners to seniors who qualify.

• If you think you can’t afford to run your air conditioner in the summer, contact your local area agency on aging. Or, ask at your local senior center. They may know if there are any programs in your community to aid people who need help paying their cooling bills. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is one possible source.

• Ask a friend or relative to drive you to a cool place on very hot days if you don’t have a car or no longer drive. Many towns or counties, area agencies, religious groups, and senior citizen centers provide such services. If necessary, take a taxi. Don’t stand outside waiting for a bus.

• Pay attention to the weather reports. You are more at risk as the temperature or humidity rise or when there is an air pollution alert in effect.

• Dress for the weather. Some people find natural fabrics such as cotton to be cooler than synthetic fibers. Light-colored clothes reflect the sun and heat better than dark colors. If you are unsure about what to wear, ask a friend or family member to help you select clothing that will help you stay cool.

• Don’t try to exercise or do a lot of activities when it is hot.

• Avoid crowded places when it’s hot outside. Plan trips during non-rush hour times.

Source: National Institute on Aging