Summer Safety Checklist
Summer Safety Checklist
Between the warmer temperatures and more hours of daylight, many individuals and families are eager to spend more time outside in the summer months. Some individuals are more vulnerable than others to heat and sun exposure, including children, older adults, and those with chronic conditions. In addition to the ways sun, heat, and medication interact in the body (which we describe in more detail below), our bodies become less efficient at cooling off as we age. In older adulthood, we also become less sensitive to thirst. In a study on heat-related deaths in the U.S. between 2004-2018, people 65 years and older accounted for 40 percent of all deaths - the highest rate of all age groups.
Whether you are caring for someone with a health condition, a child, a senior, or yourself, here are a few summer safety tips caregivers should consider.
1. Medication Safety and Storage
Some medications can negatively affect a person’s body when exposed to the sun and heat. For example:
- Antibiotics, often used to treat conditions such as sinus infections and urinary tract infections, can increase sun sensitivity.
- Diuretics, which are used in the management of heart disease and blood pressure, increases urination which puts those using them at greater risk of dehydration.
Here’s a list of medications that cause heat intolerance.
With more opportunities to spend time outdoors and away from home, it can be more difficult to stick to a medication schedule in the summer. However, medication adherence is just as important during warmer months, especially if you and the person you care for will be traveling. Here’s some additional guidance when it comes medication safety:
- Over-the-counter delivery services can help you stay on top of refills. They can also save you time and the inconvenience of having to make unnecessary trips to the store.
- Hot temperatures affect medication stability. When stored in temperatures above 86 degrees Fahrenheit, the integrity of most medications will be compromised.
- Consider bringing a first aid kit, that includes medications, in case something happens when you’re away from home.
2. Staying Cool Indoors and Outside
Heat can have deleterious effects on the human body, so it’s important to keep yourself and the person you are caring for cool as much as possible.
If you are fortunate enough to have an air conditioner, use it. Professionals suggest setting the air conditioner’s temperature at 78 degrees Fahrenheit in the warmer months which can help you save money. If you don’t have air conditioning, stock up on fans to keep air circulating throughout the house. Good airflow throughout a home can curb allergens and improve air quality. Other ways to stay cool within the home include:
- Limiting the use of appliances for cooking. Stoves, microwaves, and ovens can all add more heat to your home.
- Eating something cold that doesn’t need to be cooked. Suggested foods include sandwiches, wraps, smoothies, protein shakes, salads, and any fresh produce you have available.
- Keeping your home, or the room you are in, dark. Limit the number of lights that are left on at a given time. If you have blinds on your windows, shut them when you notice direct sunlight peeking through.
The sun is at its strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m, so it is best to spend time outdoors early in the morning or later in the evening.
3. Dehydration Prevention
It can’t be said enough: Drink plenty of water before you plan to spend time outside, and make sure to bring water and drinks that are high in electrolytes for yourself and the person you are caring for when you’re away from home. Many doctors recommend drinking roughly two liters (eight cups) of water per day. Try setting reminders throughout the day, Using the alarm or virtual assistant on your cell phone to set reminders to drink water. Another way to boost hydration is by eating fruits and vegetables. Some fruits and vegetables contain a high content of water. Pick your favorites, and keep them in a cooler with you when you travel for easy access.
4. Skin Protection
Ultraviolet rays can have long-term health effects on both the eyes and skin. Here are some ways to keep both safe from sun damage:
- Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothes. This helps keep the body cooler and allows a breeze, if there is one, to pass through the clothes.
- Wear an oversized hat to help keep the sun out of your face, and wear sunglasses to prevent damage to your eyes from the sun.
- Apply sunscreen to the body and face 30 minutes before going outside. A broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 is recommended for adults. Reapply every two hours to keep skin protected while sweating and swimming.
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