By Dr. Jamie Huysman, LCSW, CFT
Weather-related events are making the headlines consistently these days.
Fires, flooding, drought, snow, extreme temperatures; we need to be ready for anything. Summer’s hot, humid weather presents special challenges. Hats, sunscreen, sunglasses, and shade can only go so far to protect those who are vulnerable to the effects of overheating.
Spending time out of the heat—in a library, movie theatre, senior center, or at a friend’s house with air conditioning—is a good idea whenever possible. A fan will simply circulate hot air; it is not helpful for reducing heat and making it cooler.
Sweating is the body’s way of releasing heat, which is a good thing. Should one cease to sweat, it can be an indication that you are going into heat stroke, which can be life threatening.
Older adults, kids, those who take medications, those who have MS, or who are obese, are particularly sensitive to heat and should take special precautions.
Excessive sweating causes us to lose electrolytes, which need to be replenished.
Sugary sodas and alcohol should be avoided as they do not quench thirst. As much as I’d like to say, “Take your H20 first,” even that would not be enough when temperatures soar.
I recommend packing a small cooler with Pedialyte®, cold packs, a washcloth, and ice to keep handy when it is hot outside. When the ice melts, the cold water can be refreshing and help to reduce body temperature. These simple items can be of great help to homebound seniors, or when you have kids participating in outdoor activities.
Sports drinks with low sugar, Emergency®, electrolyte water, and the like should be kept on hand and at the ready during the hot summer months.
And, of course, it’s important to apply these strategies to yourself. Stay hydrated, be prepared, and check on your neighbors.
Here’s to a fun, safe, and happy summer!
Dr. Jamie is a popular keynote speaker, media expert, and author. He co-authored the acclaimed “Take Your Oxygen First: Protecting Your Health & Happiness While Caring for a Loved One with Memory Loss.” Dr. Huysman writes for Caregiver SOS, Connections, JoanLunden.com, Huddol.com, and blogs on PsychologyToday.com.