(NC) Canada is experiencing more frequent and prolonged heat waves, when high temperatures – often combined with humidity – occur for extended periods of time. Extreme heat can impact everyone’s health, and seniors are at greater risk. Here are some tips for seniors and their caregivers to stay safe when the next heat wave arrives.

Do regular wellness checks
Before a heat event, schedule regular calls with the seniors in your life to make sure they’re alright. Monitoring weather forecasts can help you know when to expect hotter temperatures. Having a set time every day can make it easier to remember to call.

Consult with a health-care provider if they take medication
Some medications can interfere with the body’s ability to deal with heat. If older adults are taking medication or have a health condition, ask their health-care provider if it increases their risk for heat illnesses or if heat worsens the side effects of the medication. Follow their medical advice.

Maintain their access to air conditioning
Many heat deaths occur indoors. If they have an air conditioner, it should be serviced annually by a professional to make sure it’s operating properly. Throughout the season, regularly inspect the unit’s filter and clean or replace it as necessary.

If they don’t have an air conditioner, find nearby locations where they can cool off during the hottest periods of the day (usually 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.), such as an air-conditioned mall, library or community centre.

Help them keep their cool
There are many other things you can do to help seniors in your life keep cool during the hottest days of the year. These include:

  • Close the windows and curtains or blinds during the day
  • Open the windows at night if there is a cooling breeze
  • Use a microwave instead of an oven to prepare meals
  • Encourage a cool bath or shower to draw heat from their body
  • Remind them to stay hydrated throughout the day
  • Whenever possible, seniors should wear loose-fitting, breathable clothing, and have a wide-brimmed hat or umbrella to shade their head when going outdoors.

Warning Signs
Finally, show them how to identify the warning signs of a heat illness. These can include rapid breathing or heartbeat, flushed skin, nausea, headache, dizziness or fainting, nausea or vomiting, and extreme thirst. If they’re experiencing any of these symptoms, they should move to a cool space, drink water and watch for the symptoms to subside.

More extreme symptoms, such as a high body temperature, no longer sweating, disorientation or unconsciousness can indicate heat stroke, which requires immediate medical attention.

Call 911 immediately and try to cool the person down while help is on the way by fanning them as much as possible, moving them to a cool place if you can and applying cold water to large areas of their skin or clothing.

Learn more on how seniors can cope with the heat at canada.ca/health.

Source: www.newscanada.com