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July 17, 2013

Seniors should take precautions against heat

PLATTSBURGH — It’s been a hot, humid and stormy summer thus far, and those scorching days may continue for some time.

Everyone should take precautions to protect themselves from too much sun and heat, but excessive temperatures can be especially dangerous for senior citizens.

They should take extra care when the thermometer rises, health officials say.

STAY INSIDE

“Seniors should stay indoors when it’s hot outside,” said Sally Garvey of the Office for the Aging in Plattsburgh.

“Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t have air-conditioning at home.

“They can find some relief by going to the mall or the Senior Center, where there is air-conditioning.”

Many seniors will rely on fans to keep them cool on warmer days, but fans do not reduce moisture in the air the way air-conditioners can, she noted.

STAY HYDRATED

“It’s important to stay hydrated, to drink plenty of water,” Garvey said. “You may not feel thirsty, but your body loses a lot more water in hot weather.”

Alcohol and caffeine can cause the body to lose water more rapidly, so they should be avoided during hot spells.

WATCH FOR EXHAUSTION

Seniors should also be aware of the signs of danger and seek medical help if they suspect they may be suffering from heat exhaustion.

“Heat exhaustion is a serious problem, especially for older people and more frail people,” Garvey said.

“There are tell-tale signs of heat exhaustion, though they could mean something else as well. Don’t take a chance.”

Fatigue is a common sign of heat exhaustion, along with a growing weakness, nausea, sweating or a lack of sweating if the body is not well-hydrated.

DRESS LIGHT

Seniors should always be aware of daily weather reports and should prepare their activities accordingly, Garvey suggested.

“Wear light clothing,” Garvey said. “If you have something planned for the day, do it early in the morning or later in the evening when it is not so hot and the sun’s not so bright. Always wear a hat.

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