By BRENT WAKEFIELD
It’s hot and temperatures will only continue to rise as we move further into the summer season. Most of us are feeling like Earth has turned into Mars as the heat scorches on, with California already reaching a record-setting heat wave.
When temperatures soar, it’s at-risk populations – such as seniors – that need to take extra precautions to stay cool and avoid heat-related dangers. The risks of overheating impact everyone and can trigger serious illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
As the County continues to open back up, I hope seniors can enjoy connecting with friends and family while actively engaging in safe practices to protect themselves against the sweltering temperatures. Use these tips to help stay cool during the summer months:
Avoid sunlight during peak periods of heat. Limit outdoor time to early mornings or evenings, or if you must be outside in the afternoon, stay covered by shade and maintain hydration.
Drink plenty of fluids, especially water. Nothing is better for hydration than water. Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages which can contribute to dehydration.
Reduce bath and shower water temperature. A moderate temperature for showers and baths is recommended in hot weather. Placing cool, damp washcloths on necks, ankles, wrists, and armpits can also help with cooling down.
Cook without the oven. Consider preparing cool-temperature meals to avoid using ovens and other kitchen appliances that can increase household temperatures.
Stay in A/C when temperatures soar. Stay in air-conditioned environments when temperatures rise or find public options, such as the library or mall, to spend time in during periods of extreme heat. The County of San Diego puts out a list every year of Cool Zones that seniors can reference to stay safe while high temperatures subside.
It’s the beginning of summer and higher temperatures are on the horizon. As the heat sets in, there are a variety of ways to reduce your electric bill for those worried about a high utility bill. Consider shifting use of heat-generating appliances – such as washers, dryers, and dishwashers – to the evenings (between 4 and 9 p.m.) to avoid peak hours; utilize small appliances to limit overall energy usage; adjust hot water temperature; and upgrade to LED light bulbs. SDG&E has resources to help pay your utility bill – and even rent. For information on bill assistance programs visit www.sdge.com/assistance.
Lastly, I encourage you to continue to check in on the seniors around you, whether it’s to make certain they are staying cool during these summer months or just to deliver a friendly smile. This last year has been hard on everyone, and a nice hello is good for all of us, no matter the age.
— Brent Wakefield is the president and CEO of Meals on Wheels San Diego County, a nonprofit organization that supports the independence and well-being of seniors in need by delivering them nutritious meals. To see how you can get involved with Meals on Wheels San Diego County, visit www.meals-on-wheels.org.