Senior Health: 10 Summer Safety Tips

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Summer is a season for taking it easy, enjoying time spent outdoors and with family. For many people, summer’s heat and abundant, powerful sunshine can be uncomfortable and even dangerous. During the hottest months of the year, it’s important to take caution when spending time outside, and make sure to drink lots of fluids to prevent illness.

If you take proper precautions to ensure that you remain hydrated, rested, covered and well, you’ll enjoy this bright, sunny season with no issues. Here are 10 summer safety tips to take you through summer and help you to prevent common health problems like dehydration, heat stroke and dangerous sunburn. As always, before you make any changes to your lifestyle, consult your physician first.

In cooler seasons, forgetting to drink water for a few hours may not be a problem, but in the high heat of summer, staying properly hydrated is essential to staying healthy and well. Aim to drink  8 or more 8 ounce glasses of water throughout the day, and always drink more after being outside in the sun and heat for an extended period of time. 

Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol
Caffeine and alcohol can both cause dehydration fairly quickly in extreme heat, so exercise caution if you choose to imbibe. Cut back on your morning coffee habit, and drink juice or sparkling water in the evening to substitute your usual cocktail. 

Avoid Extreme Heat
When the heat advisory is on, and humidity and temperatures begin to rise to extremes, stay indoors and avoid the heat as much as you can. Even an hour spent outside in extreme temperatures can prove to be dangerous and quickly cause dehydration and heat stroke, among other health issues. 

Schedule a Visit to Your Doctor
As temperatures begin to rise, plan to visit your doctor to check in on your current health state. Ask if any of your current medications may be affected by the heat, or whether any medications may cause dehydration. Ask your doctor for tips on managing yoru specific health needs through the hot months of summer.

Wear Protective Clothing
When you do head outdoors in summer, make sure to wear clothing that will protect your skin from the sun, while also keeping you cool and comfortable. Choose loose-fitting clothing in light colors that will reflect the sun instead of attracting it.

Cover Your Eyes
Protect your eyes (they’re the only ones you’ve got!) by wearing sunglasses at all times. Even when the sky looks slightly overcast, it is still important to wear a good pair of quality sunglasses that protects against harmful UV rays from the sun.

Sunblock and Protective Hats
You won’t want to leave the house covered head to toe in the extreme heat, meaning that you’ll have to have some skin exposed in order to remain somewhat comfortable. Cover your skin in a quality sunblock of SPF 30 or higher, and make sure to apply generously to your face, shoulders and neck, as these areas of your body can be most vulnerable to the sun.

Apply Bug Spray
Summer is the season of the mosquito, as well as many other bugs that are generally harmless, but may cause discomfort if bitten. Especially if you are allergic to mosquito bites, or have any sensitivity to bug bites, you’ll want to make sure to generously apply bug spray whenever you leave the house to go on short or long walks.

Exercise with Caution
While the warm weather and bright sun may call you to take off on an afternoon bike ride or long walk with your dog, remember to exercise with caution. Plan your outdoor fitness routine for early in the morning or later in the evening, when the sun is at its lowest and the temperature is down. On days with extreme heat, plan to workout indoors, walk the mall or simply skip your workout for a day in order to prevent exposure to heat and possible heat stroke.

Know the Signs of Heat Stroke 
Remain aware of the first signs of heat stroke, so that you can act quickly should you begin to feel or see them coming on. Watch for flushed face, high body temperature, headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion and rapid pulse. If you see or feel these signs in yourself or someone else, make sure to take immediate action and contact 911.