So far, it has been a mild summer here in the environs of Portland, Oregon – mostly in the 70s Farenheit. On Saturday, we reached the 90s for the first time, about 95, and the weather folks say it will stay in the 80s for the next week or 10 days.
That’s not so bad compared to many TimeGoesBy readers who are experiencing prolonged temperatures in the triple digits. And unlike where many of you live, even when daytime temperatures here reach uncomfortable heights, it always cools off overnight to the 50s so mornings are refreshing.
With my second summer here, I have the climate control in my home down to a science without pumping up the power bill by using the air conditioner. In fact, I still don’t know if it works; I’ve never turned it on.
I just open all the windows first thing in the morning and when the outside temperature gets up to about 70, I close the windows and Olllie the cat and I are fine for the rest of the day and night.
I should have written this post earlier in the summer, but there is still plenty of time for more hot weather and it is particularly hard on elders – it can kill. Some years ago during an extremely long heat wave in France, nearly 15,000 people, mostly elders, died.
In the U.S., about 370 heat-related deaths occur each year, half of them old people.
One reason is that as we age, our body temperature regulators don’t work as well as when we were younger. We might not sweat as much and might not feel thirst when our bodies need liquid. So remind yourself to drink plenty of water during hot weather. If your urine is dark, you’re not getting enough liquids.
Here are some other tips:
- Do not drink caffeinated or alcoholic beverages; they are dehydrating.
- Wear light-colored, loose clothing.
- Heat waves are not the time to skimp on the electric bill. Turn up the air conditioning when you need it.
- If you do not have air conditioning, find out the locations of your city’s cooling centers. Hundreds of cities use school gyms and other large gathering places to help people cool down during the worst of the day’s heat.
- You could also go the movies, the mall or visit a friend who has air conditioning during the afternoon.
- If you have air conditioning, consider inviting a friend who does not to visit you for a couple of hours.
- If you must be out and about during a heat wave, do your errands in the early morning. Schedule appointments before the worst heat of the day.
- Eat light meals that do not need cooking. High-water-content foods like cantaloupe, watermelon, apples and other fruits are good.
- Keep window shades and curtains lowered during the heat of the day.
- Some medications for diabetes, high blood pressure and other conditions can inhibit the body’s ability to cool itself. If your area is experiencing a prolonged heat wave, perhaps ask your physician if you can forgo those medications for the duration.
There are two heat-related conditions that are serious and you should know the symptoms:
HEAT EXHAUSTION occurs when the body gets too hot. Symptoms are thirst, weakness, dizziness, profuse sweating, cold and clammy skin, normal or slightly elevated body temperature. Move yourself or someone experiencing this to a cool place, drink cool liquids, take a cool bath or shower and rest.
HEAT STROKE is a medical emergency. It can cause brain damage so get thee or the affected person to a hospital. It occurs when body temperature reaches 104 or 105 in a matter of minutes. Other symptoms include confusion; faintness; strong, rapid pulse; lack of sweating and bizarre behavior. Don’t fool around with this.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, June Calendar: Off Leash