Elderly, infirmed more susceptible to dangerous heat

Published: Aug. 21, 2014 at 7:51 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 18, 2014 at 7:51 PM CDT
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Be aware of the signs of heat-related illness and check in on the sick and the elderly....
Be aware of the signs of heat-related illness and check in on the sick and the elderly. (Source: WAFF file)

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - With dangerous heat and humidity in the forecast, safety precautions need to be taken to make sure you and your loved ones don't become victims to the heat's dangers.

This dangerous heat and humidity combination will be rough for all for us here in the Tennessee Valley but the sick and the elderly are more prone to heat stress.

Elderly people do not adjust as well as younger people to sudden temperature changes. They are also more likely to have a medical disease or take medication that alters how their body reacts or regulates temperature in extreme heat.

Ann Anderson with CASA of Madison County said there is a key issue when it comes to the safety of the elderly in extreme heat.

"If you notice your elderly neighbor is home and they haven't been out to get their mail, go knock on their door, check on them, see how they're doing," Anderson advised.

She also suggested that if your elderly relative or neighbor has transportation issues, you may want to consider taking them to a well air conditioned location during the heat of the day.

Heat stroke is the most serious illness, which can lead to permanent disability or even death. A high fever, hot skin to the touch but not sweating, a rapid and strong pulse, dizziness, and nausea are all symptoms of heat stroke.

Heat exhaustion is a milder but still serious form of heat related illness. Some warning signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, weaker but rapid pulse, nausea or vomiting, and fainting.

If you suspect that a person has a heat related illness, especially heat stroke, immediately get medical assistance. While waiting, try to cool the person by moving them indoors or in the shade, applying ice packs, or by spraying or immersing them in cold water.

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