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Keeping Cool is Easy if You Use Some Common Sense

Don't run, dig a trench or do anything physically draining in a heat wave. And yes drink water.

I love summer, but I don't like cooking in my own skin! After living in Texas a good deal of my life, you would think this recent heat  would be a piece of cake, but it's been really hot lately.

I do remember it being just as hot when I was a kid. I can't imagine how we all survived the heat back then, but somehow, we did.  And I don't remember any screaming headlines about how many folks died from the heat, although they probably did. It was expected that you would die from something, and if it was the heat, so be it. Tougher times?  Absolutely!  

Even in air conditioned homes, if you have an elderly Mom or Dad, you might want to be sure they are taking special care not to overheat. Many older folks don't feel the heat like younger ones. A lot of them are always cold, no matter what the temperature. My Mom wears a sweater when it's 90 degrees outside. But just because they don't feel the heat doesn't mean they can't be victims of heat stroke and death due to overheating.

In fact, a few years back when France had a colossal and historic heat wave, over 15,000 people died of the heat and most of them were seniors. France doesn't know from air conditioning in homes.They open the windows and turn on a fan. All that does is blow the hot air around which dehydrates you even faster!

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If you live with of an older parent or relative, it's important to keep them cool, even against their will.

Turn on the A/C and let them complain, let them put on a sweater of they must.  Because even though they feel  cold, their temperatures will rise in the heat and they will dehydrate.

Keep them hydrated because none of us drink enough water. The secret to staying hydrated is to put a pinch  of salt on the  tongue before drinking. 

Only the tiniest bit is enough to keep water in your tissues and make up for fluids lost through perspiration. This is why sports drinks like Gatorade contain salt and glucose so the liquid actually stays in the body. Gatorade and Pedia-lyte are both good to have on hand for emergencies. Keep them refrigerated.

When you're out with Mom and Dad, make sure you have bottled water with you.  Keep a little cooler in the car and fill it with refreshing drinks. Even on short trips, seniors can dehydrate quickly in extreme heat.  

Light colored clothing made of natural fabrics like cotton are best, since man made fabrics don't breathe and make you hotter.  Ditch the polyester and wear a straw hat in the sun.

Fruits like watermelon are wonderful because they contain so much liquid and natural sugars.  It's a great way to keep hydrated without feeling like you're drinking Lake Ronkonkoma (ew). This is a trick I use with my own Mom because she really resists drinking a lot of water. Keep older folks inside in a cool room as much as possible and no heavy lifting during this heat. 

Now is not the time for Mom to go digging the garden or Dad painting the shingles. When you do go out, use the highest SPF you can find. I use SPF 60 and I'm happy to report there is now an SPF 70 for people who are really susceptible to sunburn or are at high risk for skin cancers. This is very important if you have had sunburns as a child. My generation especially, spent most of the summer peeling since we had no form of real protection. Early sunburns increase your risk of skin cancers so make sure you protect your children.

Lastly, don't forget the dog. Since dogs can't perspire except through their mouths and the pads of their feet, they are at high risk for heat stroke. For heaven's sake, keep them inside and have water available at all times.

Don't go jogging with your dog, he can't cool off like you can and really, you shouldn't be jogging in the heat yourself. It strains the heart to a ridiculous degree, no pun intended. Summer is a time for fun and relaxation, and with a few precautions, it can be the best!  

Dr Kleine regrets she cannot give advice by phone or e-mail. for an appointment please call 631.472.8139 or e-mail us at Drfootsi@myway.com 

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