In the Northern Hemisphere, we are in the middle of a hot summer. Fires are raging in the Western United States, made more severe by droughts that have plagued several states, including California, Oregon, Arizona and elsewhere. The popular national park, Yosemite, had to be evacuated for the first time in over thirty years due to smoke engulfing the usually crowded Yosemite Valley from a fire burning just southwest of the park.
Summer’s hot, dry weather is not only a danger to forests, but can prove a health risk to people, too, especially the elderly. The National Institute on Aging states that high summer temperatures can be a serious health risk for older people.
Contributing factors to the risk are poor circulation which makes it more difficult for seniors to regulate body temperature, which can lead to heat stroke, heat cramps, and heat exhaustion.
If you think someone is experiencing a heat-related illness, the agency recommends:
- Quickly calling 9-1-1.
- Removal to a shady, cooler spot, preferably with air-conditioning. The person suffering should lie down.
- Have a cool drink. Water and fruit drinks are the best. Do not offer alcohol or caffeinated beverages.
- Try to find a cool, damp cloth to apply to wrists, neck, armpits or groin area. These are the places where blood circulates closest to the surface of the skin and will more quickly cool off the patient.
- A cool shower, bath or sponging off can also help