Be Safe During Newest Summer Heat Wave

Posted on 07/18/2013 by | AARP Massachusetts | Comments

Weather CollageEver feel like you’re living in a desert? Bay State residents, here we go again. The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for the state (with the exception of Cape Cod and the Islands). The heat advisory is in effect from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., both today and tomorrow, Friday, July 19.  According to the National Weather Service, the combination of hot temperatures and high humidity creates a situation in which heat illnesses are possible.

“This heat advisory should be taken seriously by everyone, but especially the elderly and those 50+ who must spend time outdoors,” said Mike Festa, Massachusetts state director. “The key is to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, and seek shade if you must be outside for any length of time, both today and tomorrow.”

“Seniors who need relief from the heat should call their community’s Council on Aging or senior center to find out where cooling centers may have been established,” said Linda Fitzgerald, AARP Massachusetts state president. “To family and friends: Please check on any seniors you know and be sure they’re not in a sweltering environment. And seniors: If you begin to feel at all unwell, please call 9-1-1.”

According to Boston Globe meteorologist David Epstein, today and tomorrow represent the worst of this latest heat wave.

“Days 5 [today] and 6 [Friday] … will be the worst. These types of heat waves tend to break down with the possibility of severe weather,” Epstein says. “As cooler, drier air slowly makes its way south into the United States the chance of storms will increase,” with storms likely for Saturday afternoon and evening. “That’s when a cold front crosses the area and finally breaks the back of the heat,” he says, adding, “Starting Sunday, cooler and drier air will be entrenched across the region.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges people to get through heat waves this summer by staying cool, keeping hydrated—and staying informed.  “No one should die from a heat wave, but every year on average, extreme heat causes 658 deaths in the United States—more than tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and lightning combined,” said Robin Ikeda, MD, MPH, acting director of the National Center for Environmental Health and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. “Taking common sense steps in extreme temperatures can prevent heat-related illnesses and deaths.”

Extreme heat can lead to very high body temperatures, brain and organ damage, and even death, according to the CDC’s informative website, Heat and the Elderly.

People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to compensate and cool themselves properly, according to the CDC’s site. While extreme heat affects all people, the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions are among those most at risk.

3 Ways to Keep Safe While Keeping Cool 

  1. Air-conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death. During conditions of extreme heat, spend time in locations with air-conditioning such as shopping malls, public libraries, or public health sponsored heat-relief shelters in your area.
  2. Get informed. Listen to local news and weather channels or contact your local public health department during extreme heat conditions for health and safety updates
  3. Drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages and increase your fluid intake, regardless of your activity level.

 

For more information on staying safe while staying cool, visit MassResources.org or contact the Massachusetts Office of Elder Affairs.