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Heat waves are never easy, but they’re particularly brutal in urban areas; pavement and metal trap the heat, making cities as much as 10 degrees hotter than suburban areas and contributing to health problems for people over age 65 or those with chronic medical conditions.
Setting an air conditioner to 78*F is the best way to avoid heat-related illness, but not all city apartments are air-conditioned, and air conditioners can often break down or not perform well during extreme temperatures.
If your loved one doesn’t own an air conditioner (AC), open windows, but pull shades as low as possible to keep out the sun, and leave fans running at night to draw in cool air.
Leg or stomach cramps are often the first sign of heat-related illness. Treat mild cramps immediately with rest and fluids; if cramps are severe or accompanied by nausea, seek medical attention.
Fatigue, headache, dizziness, confusion, weak pulse, and shallow breathing are signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. With heat exhaustion, the skin is clammy or sweaty, and with heat stroke it is flushed, hot and dry.
Treat heat exhaustion by elevating feet, placing cool wet cloths on the skin, and giving the patient water or electrolyte solutions. If these don’t help, seek medical attention. Heat exhaustion can develop into heat stroke, which is a medical emergency. Call 911 at once.
Remember that even if you’re able to tolerate the heat, your older parent might have difficulty. The body’s ability to cool itself diminishes with age, and conditions that can cause heat cramps in a teen may lead to heat exhaustion in a 40-year-old and heat stroke in someone over 60.
To find out how VNSNY can help you care for your family member, please call 1-800-675-0391.