To help reduce the risk for dehydration, drink water. Many might also benefit from including sports drinks that contain electrolytes especially on hot days that are spent outdoors (this can be reviewed with your health care professional). Since caffeinated beverages have a diuretic effect (reduces water in the body) it is recommended to limit or avoid these beverages when the heat is oppressive. Oh yeah, alcohol increases rather than decreases, the body’s water need and should not be included as a replenishing liquid. Symptoms of dehydration include (but are not limited to) weakness, headache, muscle cramps, rapid heart rate, dizziness, confusion and difficulty walking. Dehydration, along with other heat related health changes require prompt medical follow-up.
Some tips to help stay safe when temperatures soar above 90 degrees include staying hydrated, and out of the sun during the hottest times of the day. Wear sunscreen and move into an air-conditioned environment. In most homes, staying in the coolest part of the house, which is often the lower level, may bring the most relief and make use of fans. For a quick cool down, geriatric specialist Calvin Hirsch recommends rubbing wet washcloths over ones face, wrists, and back of neck. When able, dress lightly, such as wearing loose, light colored clothes. A scorching summer day may be best spent at a movie, or library or neighborhood community center. To learn more about local cooling centers contact your local Public Health Department. Also, the Home Energy Assistance Summer Crisis Program provides a one-time benefit for cooling assistance during the summer months. Information on both can be found in the links below. It is strongly encouraged to reach out to neighbors, friends and family who would benefit from a check-in during above average temperatures.