Hot weather means outdoor fun! Beach time, pool time or simply sitting outside with friends, heat exhaustion can cause serious issues for anyone, especially the elderly. Dizziness, nausea, headache, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, fainting and breathing problems are all warning signs of heat-related illness. Here are five easy tips to help you stay cool.

Tip #1 Drink, Drink, Drink Plenty of Liquids

Dehydration is the root of many heat related health problems. Drink plenty of water or juice, even if you’re not thirsty. But remember to avoid alcoholic or caffeinated drinks, as they can actually contribute to dehydration.

Tip #2 Take it Easy

Avoid exercise and strenuous activity, particularly outdoors, when it’s very hot out.

Tip # 3 Stay Indoors During Mid-day Hours

During periods of extreme heat, the best time to run errands or be outdoors is before 10am or after 6pm, when the temperature tends to be cooler.

Tip #4 Seek Air-conditioned Environments

Seniors whose houses aren’t air-conditioned should consider finding an air-conditioned place to spend time during extreme heat. The mall, library or movie theater are all popular options. During heat waves, many cities also set up “cooling centers,” air-conditioned public places, for seniors and other vulnerable populations. Seniors without convenient access to any air-conditioned place might consider a cool bath or shower.

Tip #5 Wear Appropriate Clothes

When it’s hot out, wear light-colored, lightweight, loose-fitting clothes and a wide-brimmed hat.

Tip # 6 Stay Cool Take tepid (not too cold or too hot) showers, baths, or sponge baths when you’re feeling warm.  Don’t have the time?  Then wet washcloths or towels with cool water and put them on your wrists, ankles, armpits, and neck.

By: Chris Guio Starvaggi, RN, MSN, Chief Clinical Officer, Acuity Specialty Hospitals of the Ohio Valley