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Tips on keeping cool during Georgia heat

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POSTED: July 24, 2007 5:02 a.m.
ATLANTA — As temperatures rise, people become concerned about older people and young children because they do not adjust well to sudden changes in temperature and are more prone to heat stress.
Individuals who are 65 and older are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that affects their normal body responses to heat. Some of them take prescription medicines that impair the body’s ability to regulate its temperature or that stops perspiration.
Approximately 175 Americans die from extreme heat each year.  Men are more susceptible to heat illness than women because they dehydrate quicker.
To help older Georgians and at-risk adults keep cool, the Division of Aging Services is offering tips on avoiding heat-related illnesses this summer.
“Extreme heat is a problem for our aging population,” Maria Greene, DAS director, said. “To help them remain safe and healthy during the summer heat, we are offering them some guidelines to avoid heat-related illnesses.”
Here are some tips for staying cool during extremely hot weather. To protect an older person or at-risk adult from heat-related stress, visit them at least twice a day and watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Some warning signs and symptoms of heat stroke are:
√ an extremely high body temperature that is above 103 degrees Fahrenheit,
√ red, hot and dry skin with no sweating,
√ rapid and strong pulse, throbbing headache, dizziness and nausea.
Make sure indoor air conditioners fit snugly; if not, insulate them. Check the air-conditioning ducts in the home for proper insulation. If air-conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor of your home or residence and out of the sun.
During the warmest time of the day, go to a public building such as a library, school, movie theater or shopping mall. Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air-conditioning and who spend much of their time alone at home.
Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes or shades. Stay indoors when possible and limit exposure to the sun.
Never leave children or pets alone in vehicles.
Avoid strenuous work, use a buddy system, and take frequent breaks when working in extreme heat.
Eat well-balanced, light, and regular meals, and drink plenty of water. (If a person has a medical condition such as epilepsy, heart, kidney, or liver disease or have a problem with fluid retention, should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.)
Take a cool shower, bath or sponge bath; and dress in loose-fitting, light-weight and light-colored clothes. Protect head and face by wearing a wide-brim hat.
For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/elderlyheat.asp, FEMA at www.fema.gov/hazard/ heat/heat_during.shtm, or DAS at www.aging.dhr.georgia.gov.
 

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