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Lifestyle ... For Good Health

How seniors can keep cool during summer heat waves

SACRAMENTO - State Aging Director Lynda Terry today urged caregivers and families of frail elderly and adults with disabilities to take extra precautions to help them stay cool and safe during hot summer months.

(The following information is good for all seniors, not just those in California)

"We want to get the word out to families, friends, neighbors and caregivers to ensure that older and more vulnerable Californians are safe and comfortable during summer heat waves," said Terry. "For some seniors and adults with disabilities, high temperatures can lead to serious illness, hospitalization and even death."

Two common problems caused by exposure to excessive heat are heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

Director Terry offers these easy tips for keeping cool:

  • Eat lightly and drink plenty of fluids. Non-caffeine and non-alcoholic beverages help prevent dehydration.
  • Wear lightweight, light colored and loose fitting clothing.
  • Keep a container of cool water nearby and use wet washcloths to pat the wrists, face and back of neck or, for a quick cool down, wrap ice cubes in a washcloth or use blue cooler packs.
  • Use small battery operated hand-held fans and misters for a cooling break.
  • Schedule outside activities before Noon or in the evening.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat when in the sun.
  • Stay in the coolest part of the house - usually on the lowest floor - as much as possible.
  • A shady spot outdoors may be cooler than the house, especially if there's a breeze.
  • Mobile seniors may want to spend a few hours at the library, in a movie or at a mall or restaurant that is air conditioned to stay cool, enjoy a social outing and conserve energy.

Below are tips for cooling the home:

  • 1. Use portable and ceiling fans in frequently used rooms to substitute for or assist the air conditioner.
  • If it is safe to do so, leave windows open at night. Open windows on two sides to create cross ventilation.
  • Place a piece of cardboard covered with aluminum foil in sunny windows to reflect sunlight and heat away from the house.
  • Close shades or draperies on sunny windows.
  • Vacuum, clean or replace air filters regularly for maximum cooling efficiency.
  • If affordable, install outdoor awnings or sunscreens.

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