It’s time to prepare for the summer heat and dehydration

Summer’s hot weather is on its way and the seasonal storms that thunder their way into our lives day and night are already here. The season’s heat brings with it a greater risk of health problems in the elderly, particularly dehydration. Early signs of heat stress include rising body temperature, dry mouth and eyes, headache, shortness of breath, vomiting and absence of tears when crying. So what can you do to cool down and avoid dehydration? A Queensland Government website suggests:

Be prepared before a heatwave: If you have a medical condition, ask your doctor for advice on how to manage the heat. Also, think of simple ways to make your home or building cooler (eg install awnings, shade cloth or internal blinds or curtains on the sides of the building that face the sun). Have any air conditioners serviced before summer begins.

Drink water regularly: Drink 2 to 3 litres of water a day at regular intervals, even if you do not feel thirsty. If your fluid intake is limited on medical advice, ask your doctor how much you should drink during hot weather. Don’t drink alcohol, soft drinks, tea or coffee as they worsen dehydration. Eat as you normally would but do try to eat cold foods, particularly salads and fruit.

Keep out of the heat as much as possible: Plan your day to keep activity to a minimum during the hottest part of the day. Avoid strenuous activities and gardening. Do not leave children, adults or animals in parked cars.

If you go out: Wear lightweight, light-coloured, loose, porous clothes. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen. Regularly rest in shade and drink ample water.

Stay as cool as possible: Stay inside in the coolest rooms in your home. Open up windows and doors when there is a cool breeze, when the temperature inside rises, and at night for ventilation. Use fans and air-conditioners to keep cool, or spend time in an air-conditioned library, community centre, shopping centre, or cinema. Take frequent cool showers or baths and splash yourself several times a day with cold water, particularly your face and the back of your neck.

Look after your animals: Animals can also be affected by heat-related illness. If you are in charge of an animal, you have a duty of care to provide it with food, water, and appropriate shelter.

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