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Summer Fun, Heat and Safety

The outdoor temperatures are warming, the days are getting longer, the lawn is lush green everywhere, which means summer is getting near.   Everyone tends to feel summoned to the great outdoors at this time of year.  Breathing in the fresh air and feeling the warmth of the sunshine on your skin, seems to awaken our souls after a long winter.  There are a number of physical benefits of natural sunlight and fresh air. Being outside also provides mental and emotional benefits. 

The direct sunshine and intense heat over long periods of time are not safe for anyone.  These factors become even riskier for folks beyond 65 years of age.  As our body ages, the adjustment to temperatures and our desire to drink a cool beverage, are not as efficient.  Warning signs to take note of as potentially serious, would include: headache, dizziness, nausea, and/ or some confusion.  If your older loved ones have spent time outdoors and verbalize any of the above, this should be concerning and could be potentially dangerous.  Get them cooled down.  Be sure they are inside, ideally in air conditioning, and in a temped shower.  Contact a health care professional. 

There are a number of ways to lower the risk of heat related illnesses.

  • Stay hydrated.  Unless you have been instructed by your health care professional to limit your fluid intake, you should drink plenty of cool water, clear juices, and other liquids that don’t contain alcohol or caffeine.  
  • Dress appropriately.  Avoid wearing dark clothing whenever possible.  Wear loose fitting clothing and preferable those with some moisture management qualities.
  • Wear a hat.  A lightweight fabric hat that allows for airflow and has a broad brim, to shield your face from the sun, is the best.
  • Minimize direct sunlight exposure.  Outdoor activities during peak hours should be limited or avoided all together.  If you find yourself outdoors during peak hours, any shaded areas are your friend. 
  • Apply sunscreen.  If you plan to be outside, use broad spectrum sunscreen lotion or spray with sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Apply the sunscreen liberally to all exposed skin and repeat regularly.  

Continue to be active, get outdoors, and enjoy the summer fun, but be smart about it.  As with most things in life, with a little planning, you can enjoy a fun-filled summer season.