After spending too many hours indoors in the winter it is tempting to be outside as much as possible at this time year. Just like icy sidewalks and wind chills of the winter, the summer weather brings its own dangers for the person you are caring for – and for you. Heat emergencies can seem to come on suddenly and they can be easily avoided.
It’s a good practice to confirm the weather before you head outside – and be prepared for the weather to change.
Put sunscreen on any part of your body that will be exposed to the sun. Remember the ears, back of neck, nose, and top of your head. Even if you or who are caring for has some hair, it may be thinning, and not protecting the top of your head. Remember your hat!
Drink lots of water. It is easy to get dehydrated when outside in the warmer weather. We don’t get the signal we are thirsty until long past the time dehydration has already set in.
Wear sunglasses and protect your eyes from damage from the sun. This is especially important for those with diseases of the eye, for example, macular degeneration.
Talk to your medical team. Check with your doctor to see if you or your loved one have any health issues that can get worse is warmer weather. Also check with your pharmacist to see if the effectiveness of the medications are impacted when you are in the sun, or if there are any side effects that may become more prominent when you are in the sun
Know the signs of hyperthermia: body temperature higher than 40 degrees Celsius; a change of behavior (acting confused, agitated or grouchy), dry, flushed skin, nausea and vomiting, headache, heavy breathing or rapid pulse, not sweating, even when you should be sweating, and fainting.
There are many great reasons for taking your caregiving time outside in the sun whenever you can be there. Don’t be shy about being outdoors. Keep safety in mind and enjoy your summer!