Even for extremely healthy people, coping with excessive heat is fraught with difficulties. But for the young and the elderly, there are even more risks involved.
Each demographic is more susceptible for different reasons. In the case of the very young, their bodies are not fully developed enough to adapt easily to severe changes in temperatures. For the elderly, it is their fragility that leads to the same issue.
While we are coming to the end of yet another Australian summer, it doesn’t mean the risk of excessive temperatures has abated until next Christmas.
For anyone who lives in Australia, we all know how quickly the weather can turn—and a scorcher can come out of nowhere.
With that mind, prevention is better than cure—as they say. For all of us there are the obvious precautions to follow, such as staying hydrated and covering up, but what are the more specific steps you can take to care for both the very young and the elderly when the thermometer starts to rise?
- Stay informed: keep up-to-date with the weather reports and forecasts. If it’s scheduled to go above 30 degrees, then staying inside with the air conditioning on may be the best option. Knowledge is power.
- Talk to a doctor: It’s advisable to see if any medication is likely to increase the chances of heat stress. The doctor may be able to change or reduce doses during hotter periods of the year.
- Make plenty of people aware: The more members of your family who are aware of the risks of an elderly relative, the better. Having a readily-available copy of patient information is vital—especially doctor information in case of an emergency. As many people checking regularly on an elderly relative is also fantastic—making sure he or she is doing well and accommodation is adequately cool and ventilated.
- It’s great for the elderly to maintain a usual routine, but they simply need to be savvy about the extra dangers. Dressing appropriately, protecting the eyes, and not staying out too long are all important factors to remember.
The Very Young
- Babies are obviously the most at-risk in hot weather. They quickly overheat when temperatures rise, so plenty of fluids are imperative, as is letting your baby sleep in the coolest part of the house, and the biggest no-no of all: never leave your baby in a hot car.
- Lots of air flow throughout a house or room is vital. A fan is excellent, but not directed straight at the child.
- For young children, it is best to dress them in light, cool clothing that will still protect them from the sun. And of course, any exposed areas need to be covered with sunscreen.
- If your child is already sick in hot weather it is imperative to give them extra care and watch for signs of illnesses escalating or dehydration setting in.
- Have your doctor’s number ready in case of any emergencies.
In situations of extreme heat, it is best to apply common sense. However uncomfortable you may be feeling is only going to be exacerbated for the very young or the elderly. Put yourself in their shoes and everyone can stay comfortable and safe on those hot Aussie days.
Disclaimer: We are not medical professionals – this is general information only. If you think you are experiencing the described conditions, seek medical attention immediately.