July 8, 2021
Summer is finally here and the days are getting much hotter as seen with the above 40 C temperatures being experienced in Western Canada. Everyone needs to take precautions from the sun and heat. However, it is even more important for senior citizens and people with chronic conditions to do so. The consequences of overexposure to sunlight, heat and humidity to older people can be severe. There are some easy precautions people can take so they can enjoy the sun and warm weather safely.
There is no doubt that using sunscreen is an effective way to stay safe in the sun regardless of your age. If you are planning on being outside on a sunny day, make sure to apply a generous layer of sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30, it works best if you apply 30 min you leave your house. Do not forget to take it with you so you can reapply it whenever you need to.
KEEP YOUR EYES PROTECTED
Your eye health is important, particularly as you age. The elderly are at a larger risk for blindness and people living with diabetes have a higher risk for retinopathy if their eyes are not taken care of properly. Prolonged exposure to the sun can be irritating to the eyes and make them deteriorate at a faster rate. Simply wearing good quality sunglasses is an easy step you can take to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays and help to preserve your vision.
MAKE SMART CLOTHING CHOICES
What you wear when you are outside in the bright sunlight is important. Do not go for tank tops and shorts that are going to leave your arms and legs exposed to the sunlight. A better option for is to wear light-coloured, lightweight, loose fitting clothing. Lightweight long-sleeved shirts and pants that protects your skin from the heat rather than leaving your arms and legs exposed. Don’t forget about your protecting your head. Wearing a hat with a wide brim goes a long way to keeping you cool and safe in the warm weather and protects the skin on your scalp and face from getting sunburned.
AVOID STRENUOUS ACTIVITIES
If you want to spend time outside during the warm weather, choose your activities wisely. Spend the time working on your garden or reading a good book. Save tasks that require you to exert a lot of energy for cooler, less-sunny days or early morning or evening when the light and heat are not as intense.
KEEP YOURSELF HYDRATED
It is essential to keep yourself sufficiently hydrated when you are in the heat and sun. Your best bet is to drink water. Be sure to avoid alcohol and caffeine, as they will dehydrate you.
CHECK YOUR MEDICATION BOTTLES
If you are taking any medications, it is essential that you check for warnings on the bottles. The efficacy of some medications can be greatly affected by the user’s exposure to sunlight. So, it is important to take extra precautions if you fall into this category.
STAY IN TOUCH WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY
When you spend time outside the heat can overtake you in just a short amount of time. So, be sure to keep in regular contact with your family and friends. Let others know when you are going outside, especially for an extended period of time. Keep your cell phone with you so you can contact someone quickly if you start to feel overcome by the weather. Also, ask a loved one or friend to check in with you periodically to make sure you are doing okay in the warm weather.
SEEK OUT SHADE
If you want to spend an extended amount of time outside, be sure to seek out some shade, especially during the hours of 10:00 am and 2:00 pm when the sun is at its hottest and most dangerous. If you cannot find a shady tree or sheltered area, an umbrella works just as well.
KNOW THE SIGNS TO GO INSIDE
Spending too much time outside in the hot weather can lead to hyperthermia. This condition is serious and can lead to heat stroke. The human body exhibits several signs that warn that the condition is starting to occur.
Signs and symptoms can include:
High body temperature.- a core body temperature of (40 C) or higher
Altered mental state or behaviour.
Alteration in sweating
Nausea and vomiting
Flushed skin Rapid breathing
Racing heart rate
SPEND SOME TIME INSIDE WHEN UNSAFE OUTSIDE
It’s okay to spend time outside when the weather is warm, but temper it with some quality indoor time as well. This is particularly important on intensely hot days. For example, after you enjoy the great outdoors on a leisurely walk around the neighbourhood, treat yourself to a cold drink that you can enjoy within the confines of your air-conditioned home.
If you don’t have air conditioning, many malls are air conditioned and the City of Toronto offers many cooling centers. For a list of cooling centers call the City of Toronto at 416-392-CITY (2489). If you do use these facilities please remember to wear a mask and practice social distancing.