Extreme Heat Precautions & Safety Tips for Seniors

Onondaga County Executive Joanne M. Mahoney, Indu Gupta MD, MPH, Commissioner of Health, and Peter J. Headd, Deputy Commissioner, Executive Director, Office for Aging are advising that individuals take precautions when the temperatures and humidity are high.

The National Weather Service forecast shows temperatures are expected to exceed 90 degrees today, Tuesday, July 12, through Thursday, July 14, 2016. The heat index—which is how hot it really feels—is expected to be as high as 100 degrees on Wednesday, July 13. Dr. Gupta explained, “During these extreme heat conditions, residents should take steps to stay cool. The elderly, small children, overweight individuals, those with chronic health problems, or those who take certain medications are at an increased risk for heat-related illness.”

Peter J. Headd encourages everyone in our community “to be aware of seniors in their neighborhood, to look for signs of heat stroke or heat exhaustion or see if the person may be in need of assistance.” In case of a medical emergency call 911 directly. If you are concerned about the general well-being of an older person contact the Office for Aging and an Aging Services staff person will assess the older person’s needs and recommend appropriate services and programs.

During this hot weather it is important for everyone, but especially seniors and others who may be at an increased risk for heat-related illness, to follow these safety tips:

  • Drink water regularly, even if you’re not feeling thirsty. Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.
  • Stay in an air conditioned indoor location. If your home is not air conditioned, visit public places such as senior centers, libraries, and malls.
  • Keep draperies and window shades closed.
  • Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
  • Try to do household chores early in the morning, before it gets too hot.
  • Schedule outdoor activities carefully and pace yourself.
  • Dress in loose-fitting clothing that covers as much skin as possible.
  • Protect face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Avoid too much sun and use a sunscreen lotion with a high SPF rating.
  • Check on a friend or neighbor and have someone do the same for you.
  • NEVER leave children or pets in cars.

The Health Department reminds individuals to take steps to prevent heat-related illness. Hot, humid weather causes the body’s temperature to rise, which puts a strain on the heart and blood vessels. Heat stroke or heat exhaustion can result, which occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature. Be aware of the symptoms of heat-related illness: headache, nausea, muscle cramping, weakness, dizziness, or difficulty breathing. In extreme cases, a person may develop hot dry skin (no sweating), confusion, or unconsciousness which may indicate heat stroke. Heat stroke is a medical emergency and can result in death if not treated promptly. If you or someone you know is experiencing heat-related symptoms, contact your health care provider or 911 immediately.

For more information, including a list of air conditioned senior centers and other public cooling sites, call the Onondaga County Office for Aging at (315) 435-2362 or visit www.ongov.net/aging or www.health.ny.gov/environmental/weather/cooling/countycenters.

For more information about heat-related illness prevention tips call the Onondaga County Health Department at 435-3280 or visit www.ongov.net/health/heat.html or http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/faq.asp.