As the rain of spring comes to an end we approach a particularly beautiful season in the Pacific Northwest. Our near constant drizzle subsides, sometimes for over a month without a drop of rain. Luckily the skies have been making deposits for the last nine months, so the soil is more than capable of keeping everything green and lush. With a little care, you can stay cool and safe during the hot summer months to enjoy the longest break from all the rain.
The most important and perhaps the hardest part of staying cool in the hot summer months is to pay attention to how your body is dealing with the weather. Being present and mindful of your body will give you advanced warning about possible overheating, heatstroke, sunburns and other problems that are caused by incredible summer temperatures.
Take a moment and ask yourself how you are feeling.
Are you sweating? If it’s hot outside, you should be.
Do you feel the sun on your skin? Don’t forget to apply ample sunscreen to any skin exposed to the sun.
Do you feel light headed? This is one of the early signs of heat exhaustion. If you do feel light headed, take a seat in the shade and drink some water to cool off.
Are there layers you can remove? Are you wearing a jacket or sweater that is locking in heat?
Is the sun in your eyes? Think about putting on a brimmed hat or sunglasses to protect your eyes from damage.
While many of these suggestions work for everyone, they are even more important for our older loved ones. Seniors can suffer from poor circulation, inefficient sweat glands, the inability to sweat due to certain medications, and other issues make sweltering heat more of an issue. Seniors can be affected by heat-related issues faster and with great consequence than younger folks, so it’s important for them to be aware and take precautions.
Here are a few tips our older loved ones can follow when the temperatures begin to get too high:
- Hydration – Staying hydrated is a vitally important step to keeping cool. Remember that true hydration starts the night before, so if you plan on spending the day outside, make sure you drink plenty of water the night before as well as during your outdoor activities.
- Wear Proper Clothes – This doesn’t always mean light breathable fabrics when it’s hot out. Many new fabric types do a great job to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Make sure you dress both for the possibility of high temperatures, as well as a powerful sun. Sun hats and sunglasses, help protect your skin and eyes from damage.
- Keep Cool At Home – If your home is not equipped with air conditioning, and you know it will be a warm day, open the windows to your home in the morning while it is still cool. As the temperature begins to rise, close the windows and shades to keep the cool air trapped in your home. In the evening, open everything up again. For safety sake, close windows at night, although second-story windows may be left open.
- Keep Cool Away from Home – When a string of 90-degree heat hits, it can be difficult to keep the home cool. It’s a good idea to find that air conditioning elsewhere. In times of extreme heat, cooling stations are often set up around Clark County or you could visit the mall, go to a movie theater, or find a community center where you can spend a few hours during the warmest parts of the day. Check out Multnomah County’s map of Cool Spaces for more locations to beat the heat.
- Pay Attention to Your Body – If you begin to feel faint, dizzy, or nauseous, you may be getting heat stroke. Get inside as soon as possible or call someone for help. Remember the most important way to stay cool is to be mindful.
These are just a few ways to stay safe in the summer heat. It’s important for family members to check on older loved ones as well to make sure they are taking the proper precautions. Stopping by for a visit or even a phone call can make sure a senior is in good spirits and taking care of themselves.
Don’t forget about Pets
Seniors aren’t the only group that needs special attention during the hot summer months. Pets, especially long hair breeds of cats and dogs, are at a heightened risk of heatstroke or other summer temperature related medical issues. Make sure your fuzzy friends have plenty of water, and if they like to play outside, think about filling a kiddy pool so your pooch has a place to cool off.
With a little mindfulness, the hot summer months of Oregon and Washington make for the best time to explore the beauty of nature. Visits to the coast, or the mountains, or even just a day window shopping in Portland or Seattle.can finally be enjoyed without a jacket and rubber boots.