Keep Your Cool in the Heat
The month of July usually means high temperatures in Central Illinois. The normal high temperature in the Greater Peoria area in July is 85.6 degrees with seven days normally above 90 degrees. This makes July the hottest month of the year, according to the University of Illinois Prairie Research Institute.
It’s a smart idea for older adults to have a plan to deal with hot weather - before it occurs. They are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that changes the body’s normal response to heat, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They are also more likely to take prescription medications that impair the body’s ability to regulate its temperature or that inhibit perspiration.
A Stay Cool Plan
Your plan for keeping cool in the heat should include:
Plan to go to an air-conditioned environment such as a shopping mall, movie house, library or cooling center during the hottest hours of the day if you do not have air conditioning. Don’t rely on a fan to keep you cool when the heat is extreme.
Changing your eating and fluid consumption habits to adapt to the hot weather is critical. See below for some tips.
Rest more. Postpone extreme exercise and exertion if at all possible.
Wear cool, lightweight and light-colored clothing.
Spend time in the water at a local swimming pool (remember the sun block!) or take a cool shower or bath.
If you live alone, arrange to have a relative, friend or neighbor check in on you at least twice a day. If no one is available to do this, many home care agencies and volunteer organizations offer a “well-being check” as a service.
Monitor local television, radio and electronic and print media for health and safety updates.
Do not ignore the symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Get help immediately if you are showing symptoms of heat stroke (body temperature above 103°F; hot, red, dry or moist skin; rapid and strong pulse; possible unconsciousness). See www.cdc.gov/extremeheat/warning.html for more information on sun stroke and heat exhaustion.
Smart Eating and Fluid Consumption
Modifying your eating and (especially) fluid consumption habits is essential.
Increase your fluid intake with cool beverages.
Stay away from alcoholic beverages or sugary liquids. They actually cause the body to lose more fluid.
If exercise or exertion can’t be avoided, a sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. If you are on a low salt diet, check with your physician first.
Avoid very cold liquids, which may cause stomach cramps.
If you take water pills or your physician limits the amount of fluid you drink, ask her how much you should drink when the weather is hot. Do not take salt pills unless your physician has directed you to do so.
Avoid heavy meals. They add heat to your body. Eat well-balanced, light and regular meals.
Do not use the stove to cook. This will only make you and your house hotter.
There are several cooling centers in Peoria. Some of them and their hours of operation:
Salvation Army, 417 NE Jefferson, 8:30-4:30
Dept. of Human Services, 211 Fulton, 8:30-5, M-F
Friendship House, 800 NE Madison, 8:30-5, M-F; Sunday 11-2
Peoria Fire Stationsopen 24/7
There are also cooling centers in Tazewell County:
Dept. of Human Services, 200 South Second Street Ste. 20, Pekin, 8:30-5
Dept. of Human Services, 2970 Court Street, Sunset Plaza, Pekin, 8:30-5
Pekin Police Station, 111 S. Capitol Street (Sabella St. entrance) open 24 hours
City of Pekin Service Center 1130 Koch St., Pekin, 7:00-4:30
Other ways to find cooling centers:
The Central Illinois Chapter of the American Red Cross maintains a list of cooling centers. They can be reached at (309) 677-7272 and www.redcross.org/il/Peoria.
Local media usually broadcast cooling center locations in times of high heat. Stay tuned.