Please re-read this even if you think you know all of it. I found it good to get reminders on ideas for keeping cool and safety - from staring into the open refrigerator for a couple of minutes will cool you down. and when you need a doctor.
With so many gigantic problems in our world and aside from the terrifying news that the Siberian arctic reached the highest temperature ever recorded – 100F degrees – last month, reports of extreme summer heat are hard to find .
That doesn't mean it's not happening and that there won't be a lot more before summer is over.
So at about this time each year, I post a reminder about how to keep ourselves cool throughout summer and how to know when overheating is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. Although everyone suffers, extreme heat is more often deadly for elders than younger people.
For example, in France in August of 2003, during an extreme heat wave, 14,802 heat-related deaths occurred, most of them elders. In the U.S., it is estimated that about 370 deaths a year are attributable to heat, half of them elders. Do not take extreme heat lightly.
HOW TO STAY COOL AND SAFE IN HOT WEATHER
Here are the best suggestions for staying cool and safe during extreme hot weather.
Even if, like me, you dislike air conditioning, when temperatures hit 80F, it's time to pump up the volume of that appliance. Fans, say experts, don't protect against heat-related illness when temperatures are above 90 degrees; they just push hot air around.
Last year, I recommending going to a mall or a movie or a library during the hottest part of the day. Uh, well, that's up to you and also depends on your state's lockdown rules. I'm not recommending these things.UPDATE for 2020: Experts don't know if air conditioning can spread the coronavirus. Here's what the Cleveland Clinic says:
”I don’t think we can say for sure yet, but we don’t think this is a primary way the virus is spread...
“While there is no clear evidence at this time, fans and air conditioners do move air around in a room, so they theoretically pose a risk of spreading viral particles and droplets. More research is needed to understand the impact, if any, of air conditioning on the spread of COVID-19 in public places.”
Read more at the Cleveland Clinic or for more, google “is air conditioning safe during covid”.
• Wear light-colored, loose clothing.
• Drink plenty of liquids and make reminders to yourself to do so. Elders sometimes don't feel thirst (another thing that stops working well with age). One way to know if you are drinking enough water is to check the color of your urine. Light-colored is good; dark indicates dehydration.
• Do not drink caffeinated and alcoholic beverages – or at least keep them to a minimum; they are dehydrating. (Some people dispute this; experts do not.)
• Plan trips out of the house and exercise for the early morning hours.
• Eat light meals that don't need to be cooked. High-water-content foods are good: cantaloupe, watermelon, apples, for example.
• Keep a spray bottle of cold water to help you cool down. Or use a damp, cool towel around your neck.
• Close doors to rooms you are not using to keep cool air from dissipating.
• Some medications for high blood pressure, diabetes and other conditions can inhibit the body's ability to cool itself, so it might be a good idea to ask your physician if you can cut back during hot weather.
• Pull down the shades or close curtains during the hottest times of day.
In that regard, I have been quite successful in keeping my home cool during hot weather without the air conditioner. In the morning, when the temperature here in Portland, Oregon is typically in the mid- or high 50s, I open all the windows.
I keep my eye on the thermometer and when the outside temperature reaches 65F or 70F – usually by late morning - I close the windows and the shades. After several years of practice with this method, I only rarely need the air conditioner even on 90-plus degree days. It saves a lot of money, too, not using the air conditioner.
But, with the virus admonitions above, do turn on the air conditioner when it's really hot.
SERIOUS HEAT-RELATED CONDITIONS
Heat exhaustion occurs when the body gets too hot. Symptoms are thirst, weakness, dizziness, profuse sweating, cold and clammy skin, normal or slightly elevated body temperature.
Move yourself or someone experiencing this to a cool place, drink cool liquids, take a cool bath or shower and rest.
Heat stroke is a medical emergency. It can cause brain damage so get thee or the affected person to a hospital. It occurs when body temperature reaches 104 or 105 in a matter of minutes. Other symptoms include confusion; faintness; strong, rapid pulse; lack of sweating and bizarre behavior.
Don't fool around with heat stroke.
There now. That's pretty much the best of health experts' recommendations about protecting ourselves and others during extreme hot weather. If you have additional suggestions, please add them in the comments.
Oh, I almost forgot: Enjoy your Fourth of July.