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Health: Tips to Stay Cool during a Heat Wave

It’s August and that means it’s hot outside. Heat waves are hitting the U.S. hard and temperatures are soaring. For many people – especially our senior population – they do not have air conditioning. If you know someone in your neighborhood who does not have air conditioning and is struggling to keep cool, here are some tips for surviving a heat wave that you can share with them.

  1. Purchase a fan. Box fans and ceiling fans can promote air circulation throughout the home. Opening doors in the house and using box fans to push hot air outdoors can function as an “exhaust” system and draw cooler evening air into the house.
  2. Cool down with water. Fill buckets or basins and soak your feet. Wet towels and bandanas can have a cooling effect when worn on the shoulders or head. Take cool showers or baths. Use a spray bottle filled with cold water and spray on you throughout the day.
  3. Head to the basement. Heat rises. If the home has a basement, head down there. It can be a cool refuge from the midday heat.
  4. Stay hydrated. Consume more water than usual when it is hot. Drink sufficient amounts of fluids before you feel thirsty in order to prevent hydration.
  5. Get outside. During the hottest hours of the day, head outside to a public building with air conditioning. Check out the library, shopping center or movie theaters to stay out of the heat and bring some much-welcomed relief.

Remember that heat-related illnesses can turn into serious emergencies. Be a good neighbor and make sure that as the heat rises, you’re checking in on elderly neighbors. Heat cramps, heat rashes, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke can be the result of someone not able to cool themselves down. If this is happening to your elderly neighbor, you should call emergency services (911) and try to cool them down until help arrives.

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