If you live in Southern California, then you know that the weather has been uncharacteristic.
Nonetheless, summer is upon us.
And along with the sunny beach days, sips of lemonade and delayed night-time comes something more sinister: heat exhaustion.
It is common to hear about the elderly and children dying during these hot months.
These deaths are 100% avoidable when you take the right precautions.
In this post, I will share a little bit about heat exhaustion as a condition.
And then I will also talk about what you can do as a caregiver or senior to ensure that you stay safe during these hot months.
What is heat exhaustion?
Heat exhaustion happens when a person is exposed to excessive heat.
A person does not need to be doing a strenuous activity to experience heat exhaustion.
Strenuous activity in the hot sun increases the chances that a person will experience heat exhaustion.
If a home has poor ventilation, somebody in that home could experience heat exhaustion.
If a person is not well-hydrated during the hot summer months, they can experience heat exhaustion as well.
This is why it is necessary to stay cool and stay hydrated during the summer.
I will discuss more ways to prevent heat exhaustion below.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion
Somebody who is experiencing heat exhaustion will display the following symptoms.
- Excessive sweating
- Extreme thirst
- Decreased urination
- Clammy skin
- Muscle cramps
If you or your loved one begin to experience any of these symptoms, you are experiencing heat exhaustion.
Thankfully, heat exhaustion is something that can be treated without going to the hospital.
If a person faints however or the symptoms persist despite rehydration and cooling them off, it is helpful to report to the nearest emergency room so they can rule out any other condition.
Preventing heat exhaustion
Preventing heat exhaustion is easy.
Following these simple rules will keep you away from an episode of heat exhaustion.
- Avoid staying in an enclosed place that gets heated up quickly and which has no ventilation. This includes staying in cars with all the windows rolled up.
- Drink plenty of water during the summer. I know that some of us are not the biggest fans of water. However, water really is life. If you don’t like the taste of plain water, you can add flavor to it by cutting up limes, lemons, strawberries or your favorite fruit. The infusion of fruit flavors greatly enhances the taste and makes it more likely that you will drink.
- In addition to drinking water, it is helpful to keep up with your electrolytes. Drinks like Gatorade contain essential ions and minerals that keeps your body at optimal performance. Infusing your water with fruits as well as eating fruits and vegetables are also effective ways to stay up on your electrolytes.
- Ventilation is important. Open your windows. Turn on a fan. Turn on the air conditioning. Anything that cools your environment is helpful in keep dehydration and heat exhaustion away.
- Use thick lotions on your skin (preferably with sunscreen) to avoid losing water from the surface of your skin.
- Use a humidifier in your room at night if the air is dry.
- On extremely hot days, stay indoors or in shaded areas and as much as possible avoid strenuous activity.
- You can take over-the-counter pain killers like Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen to relieve any pain you experience from dehydration. If the pain persists, see a doctor immediately.
- You can apply a lot of these rules for pets as well.
Heat exhaustion in the summer is real. Following these simple rules will ensure you and your loved ones stay safe.