The first wave of summer may have peaked with several 100+ degree days in July, but here in Central Virginia, we usually see a second wave of heat that lingers long past Labor Day. While we enjoy having four seasons, the last gasp of summer heat can grow tedious—and it poses a special danger to seniors who might over-exert themselves and overheat. Until the mild days of autumn arrive, here are five tips to help you stay safe:
1. Stay hydrated.
Hydration is important all year round, but it’s particularly critical in the summer when the heat makes us sweat. While the world has plenty of thirst quenchers available, nothing beats good old-fashioned water. Not only does a glass of water replenish your lost fluids, it also can help cool you down.
2. Exercise early in the day.
Exercise is one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy, particularly in older age. A long brisk walk every day keeps the blood circulating and a spring in your step. But when the weather creeps into the 90s, it can be easy to overheat if you try to do your exercises during the day. Evenings are a great time for walking, but often the late-summer heat doesn’t burn away until long after dark. An early-morning walk is the coolest time to stay fit.
3. Stay indoors during peak hours.
Fresh air is wonderful, but the afternoon swelter can be punishing. Sweat, the body’s natural cooling system, works because the evaporating water saps energy in the form of heat away from the body. But if the heat and humidity are too high, the sweat will linger rather than evaporating. On those unfortunate days where the temperature outside is higher than the body temperature, you might even sweat into a fever.
4. Take care with hot cars.
It doesn’t take long—sometimes only 10 minutes—for the inside of a car to heat up to 30 degrees warmer than the air outside, which means that midday errand could turn dangerous. You could bake into a heat stroke while waiting for the car to cool off with air conditioning. If you have to go out, look for a shaded parking space. Before you get in the car, try rolling down the passenger window and then rapidly open and shut the driver side door. That will circulate air and help cool things off by several degrees.
5. Get ready for fall.
Seasons move quickly, and autumn will be here before you know it. A 90+ degree day in August is miserable, but you’re only a few weeks away from perfect temperatures. Because you’re stuck indoors from the heat anyway, now is a great time to clean out your closet and start pulling out the jackets and sweaters. Be patient: beautiful weather is on its way.