Heat Safety Brought to you by Senior Extra at Carlisle Regional Medical Center

Staying cool in summer

Warmth and sunshine feel great and can lift your spirits, but extreme heat can present a health danger for older adults. When temperatures reach the 90s, seniors can be at greater risk for dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and heat syncope (fainting).

By being aware of the risks and taking a few simple precautions, you can protect yourself from heat-related illness. Carlisle Regional’s Senior Extra program would like to offer some tips to help you stay cool when temperatures get hot.

Beating the heat

As we age, physical changes make it more difficult for our bodies to cool down as quickly or effectively as when we were younger. Seniors are also less likely to feel hot or thirsty, even in extreme heat. In addition, chronic diseases common in older adults and the medications used to treat them can also increase the risk of heat-related illness. It’s because of these issues that seniors need to be extra careful in hot weather.

The health care team at Carlisle Regional Medical Center suggests the following tips to keep cool when temperatures are 90 F or hotter:

  • Spend as much time as you can indoors with the air conditioning on. If you don't have air conditioning, go to an indoor mall or a senior center, movie theater or library. A fan can’t keep you cool enough when the temperature is that high.
  • Plan outdoor activities in the early morning or after sunset when it’s cooler.
  • Wear light-colored, loosely fitted clothes and a broad-brimmed hat when outdoors. In addition, be sure to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher to protect against sunburn, which further impairs your ability to stay cool.
  • Drink plenty of water, and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic drinks, which can have a dehydrating effect.
  • Take tepid showers or baths, or place cool, damp washcloths on your wrists, ankles, armpits and neck.

"Symptoms such as headache, weakness, dizziness and cramps can signal heat-related complications,” said Dr. Scott Miekley.  “Older adults should also be aware that certain medications, such as diuretics, have side effects that can increase their risk of developing heat-related conditions; this also includes over-the-counter medications such as allergy and sinus remedies.”

When the temperature rises, follow these suggestions to avoid getting too hot. Take a walk or do your gardening in the morning while it’s cool, and plan indoor activities on hot days. By taking a few preventive measures, you can beat the heat and prevent health complications.

Carlisle Regional Medical Center

Carlisle Regional Medical Center is a 165-bed acute care hospital, fully accredited by the Joint Commission and licensed in the state of Pennsylvania by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. For more than 92 years, Carlisle Regional Medical Center has served Carlisle and the surrounding communities with quality, compassionate and excellent health care.

About Senior Extra

Ever-changing advancements in health care allow us to live longer and improve our overall health. Providing the latest information about health advancements through monthly seminars and events is just one facet of Senior Extra. To sign up for a free membership, visit www.SeniorExtra.com.

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Remember that this information is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor, but rather to increase awareness and help equip patients with information and facilitate conversations with your physician that will benefit your health.

True or false: Heat stroke isn't a serious condition.

False. Heat stroke is a dangerous rise in body temperature that can be deadly. Symptoms include a temperature of 103 F or higher and red, hot and dry skin accompanied by headache, elevated pulse, dizziness or fainting, nausea and confusion. If you experience these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately.


American Geriatrics Society Foundation for Health in Aging – www.healthinaging.org

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – www.cdc.gov