Summer Safety Tips For Older Adults
Summer is here, which means winter doldrums and spring allergies are long gone. Now, the flowers are abloom, the sun is ablaze and longer days offer more time to enjoy retirement.
With the fun of summer, however, comes several safety challenges for older adults. Here are some National Safety Council tips to follow to help you enjoy the summer.
Keep Your Cool
Did you know your body is constantly in a struggle to disperse the heat it produces? Most of the time, you’re hardly aware of it – unless your body is exposed to more heat than it can handle. There are several heat-related illnesses, including heatstroke (the most severe), heat exhaustion and heat cramps.
During the summer, heat-related illnesses can begin with little warning and escalate quickly. The best way to avoid a heat-related illness is to limit exposure outdoors during hot days and avoid spending time outdoors during the hottest part of the day, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Use caution when exercising in the heat, and always dress for the weather with lightweight, natural fabrics and a hat. Air conditioning is the best way to cool off, according to the Centers for Disease Control. If you or a companion experience symptoms like flushed skin, vomiting, headache, confusion, temperature above 104 degrees Fahrenheit and lack of sweating, seek medical attention immediately.
Older adults have increased vulnerability to dehydration because of physical changes that come with aging, and some older adults may be less aware of thirst. If you’re taking a walk or going for a drive, remember to pack plenty of water, and drink it often. Drink more water than you think you need.
Stay in Touch
It’s always a good idea to stay in touch with friends and loved ones; in the summer heat, be sure to let someone know if you plan to spend time outdoors. Consider checking in periodically with neighbors as well, and keep a list of emergency phone numbers handy in case you experience any concerning symptoms.
Protect Your Eyes and Skin
To protect your skin, always wear sunscreen when you plan to spend time outdoors. If you do get a sunburn— with acute symptoms including burning, blisters and redness or with any unusual symptoms — check in with your doctor right away. Shield your eyes from harmful UV rays by wearing sunglasses when you are out and about.
Store Medications Properly
If you take any medications, make sure you understand how to store them in the heat. Some medications lose effectiveness when stored at temperatures above 78 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re traveling, keep heat-sensitive meds in a cooler and check with your doctor or pharmacists for the best method of storing your medications.
Take Food Precautions
The risk of food poisoning increases significantly in the summer, when food is left sitting out at picnics and other outdoor gatherings. Make sure any salads and other foods that include mayonnaise or other perishable ingredients are not left in the heat for more than 15 minutes.
Mosquitoes, ticks, wasps and other insects pose real dangers as the mercury rises. Older adults have increased susceptibility to encephalitis and West Nile Virus, and ticks can cause Lyme disease and other serious illnesses. If you’ll be outside, wear light-colored clothing to help spot ticks. After checking with your doctor, spray yourself with a repellant that includes DEET. If you are at risk for an allergic reaction from stings, carry an EpiPen at all times.
By taking a few precautions, you can have fun and stay healthy throughout the summer.