With the so called “Heat Dome” affecting much of the continental United States, it seemed like a prudent time to write about being safe and keeping cool outside. The Heat Dome is “a perfect storm of sizzling summer weather exacerbated by relatively cloudless skies and the higher angle of the sun in the summer”. This has caused the entire continental US to face a huge heat wave that has already broken 221 records across the country.
With this increased heat, experts at the US National Institute on Aging recently stated that the risk of heat-related illness increases with age. As people get older, their bodies are less able to adapt to increased temperatures which can exacerbate their pre-existing conditions. Furthermore, medications that seniors take may also cause dehydration or decrease their body’s ability to respond to heat.
Once the body reaches 104 degrees Fahrenheit, a heat stroke may occur which can be deadly. Signs that indicate this has occurred include “a strong, rapid pulse; lack of sweating; dry flushed skin; faintness; staggering; and mental status changes, such as confusion, combativeness, disorientation or even coma”.
Researchers strongly cautioned seniors to avoid the heat as much as possible by staying inside with air conditioning as much as possible. However, if someone is suffering from a heat-related illness the following steps should be taken:
- Call 911 immediately
- Move them into air conditioning or another cool place
- Urge them to lie down and rest
- Remove or loosen tight-fitting or heavy clothing
- Encourage them to drink water or juices if they are able to drink, but avoid alcohol and caffeine
- Apply cold water or cold compresses to their skin
 Eli Jacks, meteorologist at the National Weather Service, http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2011/07/whats-heat-dome-anyway/40291/
 HealthDay, “Elderly at Greater Risk for Heat Stroke, Experts Warn”, http://news.yahoo.com/elderly-greater-risk-heat-stroke-experts-warn-130609458.html;_ylt=AqL5A21cJKH.mEb7cpaqkE_VJRIF;_ylu=X3oDMTM4OTg0ZnBlBHBrZwMzZjQwYzc3ZC0yMTVmLTM2MmQtYTAwOC1jYzQyYzhjYmI2YmEEcG9zAzMEc2VjA2xuX0FnaW5nX2dhbAR2ZXIDODEyZDRjYzAtYjM5YS0xMWUwLWJmZGItNWNlODFkYThjNGI1;_ylv=3