Posted: July 16, 2020 | 10:00 a.m.
Recently we have been experiencing a period of extremely high temperatures. There have been a number of days in a row where the temperatures topped out well over 90 degrees. These hot days have brought humidity levels that were extremely high as well. With the combination of high temperatures and high humidity, it has made it difficult for some of our elderly citizens and those with health issues to cope with these conditions.
Every summer, nearly 200 Americans die of health problems caused by high heat and humidity, and most of them are 50 or older. Hot weather is more likely to cause health problems for older adults for a number of reasons. Physical changes that happen with age make older people less likely to notice when they feel hot, even when outside temperatures are high. They also cannot cool down as quickly or as well as younger people can. Older adults are also less likely to feel thirsty, which means they are more likely to become dehydrated (a loss of too much water in your body). Heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases common in later life also increase risks of heat-related problems. To protect yourself and others, please familiarize yourself with the following guidelines for these hot days.
- Stay out of the sun. If you must be in the sun, wear sunscreen (at least SPF 15) and a wide-brimmed hat.
- Stay in the shade or under awnings as much as possible.
- Avoid overexertion and strenuous outdoor activities.
- Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothes that cover as much skin as possible to prevent sunburn.
- Consume plenty of non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated fluids, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Water, diluted juices, and electrolyte solutions are best. Stay away from carbonated drinks.
- Avoid alcohol.
- Keep lights in your home low or off, keep shades drawn, and avoid using the oven.
- Keep rooms well ventilated with air conditioners and fans. Keep your windows open if you do not have air conditioning or a fan.
- Make a special effort to check on your neighbors during a heat wave, especially if they are seniors, families with young children, people with special needs, or living alone.
- Seniors and others who may be sensitive to extreme heat should contact friends, neighbors, or relatives periodically throughout the day.
Also remember that we are still battling the COVID 19 pandemic. There have been spikes in infections in a number of states. Virginia has also seen an uptick in the number of positive tests. Please remember to follow CDC, state and local guidelines for protecting yourself and others. This is especially important for the groups that are more susceptible to the effects of this deadly virus.
Another group that suffers during periods of extreme high temperatures is our pets. Dinwiddie Animal Control has received a number of calls from citizens concerned about the conditions animals have been in during these hot summer days. If you have a pet, make sure they are provided for during these hot days as well. Make sure to keep plenty of cool clean water for them where they have access to it. Also, make sure they have access to shade at all times. What may be a shaded area in the morning may have no shade at all later in the day. If possible, bring them inside where there is a fan or air conditioning during the hottest part of the day. Never leave an animal in a parked vehicle, even for just a few minutes. Even with the window rolled partially down, the temperatures inside of a vehicle can soar to deadly levels in just minutes. Animals cannot tolerate extremely high temperatures.