By Beth Pinyerd
For The Observer
LEE COUNTY –– It’s peak summer time and while the sunshine is welcome, the heat that comes with it can sometimes take its toll. The following is a series of tips to help seniors (and others) stay cool and healthy this summer.
1. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol. With our seniors we need to be aware that they are more susceptible to dehydration than younger people because they lose their ability to conserve water as they age.
2. Avoid extreme temperature changes. With seniors, guide them toward cool places like shade, air conditioning, etc., when out.
3. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
4. Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
5. Postpone outdoor games and activities.
6. Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat. Take frequent breaks if working outdoors. High temperatures can be life-threatening, so communication plays an important role in ensuring the safety of the elderly. Caregivers should check on the health and welfare of the elderly at least twice a day.
7. Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. MAKE SURE THEY HAVE PLENTY OF WATER.
8. If on certain medicines, check with your doctor to make sure any medications you are on won’t be affected by higher temperatures.
9. Heat Exhaustion: Excessive heat can lead to sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If someone is experiencing these symptoms, get them to a cooler place, have them rest, replenish their fluids with half a glass of cool water every 15 minutes.
10. Heat Stroke – Life threatening-signs include hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting and high body temperature. Call 911 or the local emergency number.
11. Protect your eyes during the summer by wearing appropriate eye wear to protect from the sun; wear serious eye protection while doing home projects; protect eyes during sports; avoid or protect against chemicals; protect against oddball events such as fireworks, snapping bungee cords from tying down luggage; pellet or dart guns, etc.
SNAKE SAFETY TIPS:
TIP 1 – Leave snakes alone. Almost all cases of snake bite occur when people attempt to catch, pick up or kill snakes. No snake will ever attack a human if unprovoked, and believe it or not even stepping on venomous snakes like cottonmouths or rattlers rarely results in a strike.
TIP 2 – Learn your snake species, particularly in our area.
TIP 3 – Remember what the difference between poisonous and nonpoisonous snakes.
TIP 4 – A rhyme for coral snakes: Red Touches Yellow, Kills A Fellow; Red Touches Black, Venom Lack; Yellow Touches Red, Soon You’ll Be Dead; Red Touches Black, Friend Of Jack.
TIP 5 – Snake Bite First Aid: 1. Remain clam, if you get worked up and panicked over the bite, your heart will beat faster and any venom will spread throughout the body. 2. Call for help! 3. The area should be cleaned and not flushed. 4. Wrap the area to prevent movement. 5. Try to remember what the snake looked like.
SPIDERS TO LOOK OUT FOR
DURING THE SUMMER
We have 1,000 species of spiders in Alabama. Only three species are highly venomous: black widow, brown widow and brown recluse.
Mosquitoes: Summer’s most unwelcome guest will feast on birds, animals and you. If a bird has West Nile Virus ad he moquito preys on this bird, then the mosquito can pass on the illness to human prey. Wear long sleeves, long pants and use bug repellents. Stay indoors during dawn and dusk when mosquitos are most active. With bees and wasps, insect repellent won’t keep them away, so avoidance is the key. Wasps hang around garbage bins so try to stay away from bins. Sudden movements provoke the bee or wasp to sting so don’t do sudden movements. If stung by a bee use your fingernail to remove the stinger. Don’t use tweezers, these could squeeze venom into the wound. Clean the area with soap and water; if painful, rub a pain reliever on the wounded site. If your lips are swelling, it’s getting harder to breathe or your throat is tightening up, go straight to the emergency room.
PLANTS IN THE SUMMER
Poisonous plants have a range of harmful effects. Poison ivy, Toxicodendron Radicans, are the most recognized poisonous plants in Alabama. Many familiar plants contain toxins that cause vomiting, diarrhea or even lead to death.
What to do: Purchase or borrow a simple plant guide; find out if the plants in your yard are toxic to children or pets; protect yourself when outdoors, expecially if you will be disturbing plants. Wear long sleeves, long pants and gloves.