21 Jul Caregiver Tips for Extreme Heat
Beat the Heat!
As record-breaking temperatures continue, we want to help spread information and resources to help caregivers and their loved ones stay safe. There are many health risks associated with extreme heat and seniors are particularly susceptible. The good news is that these risks are totally preventable with the right preparation and awareness!
What is Heat-Related Illness?
Heat-related illnesses can occur when body temperatures rise to a dangerous level after prolonged exposure to excessive heat and humidity, or when too much fluid is lost during dehydration or sweating. These illnesses include heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
Heat cramps are the mildest form of heat-related illness and involve muscle pains and spasms. If heat cramps occur, drink hydrating fluids and stop any physical activity until symptoms go away.
Heat exhaustion is more severe and occurs when excessive heat and sweating causes the body to lose too much fluid and salt. Symptoms include dizziness, thirst, heavy sweating, nausea and weakness. If heat exhaustion occurs, move your senior or loved one to a cooler, air-conditioned environment. Give them plenty of water, loosen clothing, and provide a cool wet cloth.
Heat strokes are the most severe heat-related illness. These are life-threatening emergencies that require immediate medical attention. The most prominent symptoms of heat strokes are dizziness, confusion, loss of consciousness, and elevated body temperature over 103 degrees. If a heat stroke has occurred, call 911 or get the person to a hospital immediately.
Free Cooling Centers & Box Fans
If you’re in the San Antonio area, there are more than 30 free cooling centers located throughout the city. These include libraries, senior centers and community centers. View this map to find a cooling center near you.
The City of San Antonio (COSA) also offers free fans during summer months (June-August) to seniors who are 60 years of age and older, current San Antonio residents and show critical need for a box fan. If your senior meets these eligibility requirements, you can call 2-1-1 (United Way Helpline) to request a box fan, or visit COSA’s Project Cool webpage to learn more.
Tips for Staying Cool & Safe
- Increase water intake and always carry a refillable water bottle with you.
- Keep your home comfortable by turning on fans and closing window shades during the day.
- Take advantage of early mornings when it is much cooler and stay near shaded areas.
- Dress in loose, light-colored clothing. Wear wide-brimmed hats and plenty of sunscreen for additional protection.
- Check medications, as some may make you more susceptible to sun burn and heat-related illness.
- Limit alcohol, soda, and coffee to avoid dehydration.