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Heat wave heading to New England this week

While a warm summer in New England is expected and a heat wave of 90 degree temperatures is heading our way, no one wants to stay inside the air conditioning hiding from the heat and sun for the entire summer. Excessive heat and humidity can be unhealthy and cause dangerous conditions such as dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

During the hot months, MetroWest Medical Center recommends that it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on the older adults in our lives. Dr. Lisa Sotir, Chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, explains, “Elders are much more likely to develop heat-related illnesses than younger people because as we age our bodies don’t adjust as well to drastic changes of temperature. Also, some medications that older adults are taking can affect the way their bodies regulate heat.”

However, this does not mean young people are immune to heat emergencies. Along with the elderly, most susceptible to excessive heat are the very young, pregnant women and those with chronic medical conditions.

Dr. Sotir recommends ways to beat the summer heat:

1. Wear natural fabrics.
Loose-fitting, lightweight white cotton or linen is cooler, as dark fabrics absorb more light than lighter colored clothes.
2. Drink lemon water.
Drink water with lemon to replace the salt lost from excessive sweating. One squeezed lemon provides 21% of a person’s daily required dose of Vitamin C. The acid in lemons can damage teeth, so use a straw.
3. Eat light.
Foods rich in fat and protein take longer for the body to digest, which requires additional metabolic heat. Eating light such as salads can help feel hydrated. Eat small meals and eat more often.
4. Cool down pulse points.
Use frozen water bottles at the bottom of the throat, behind the ears, on wrists, inside the elbow and behind the knees.
5. Use aloe on sunburns.
Sunburns slow the skin’s ability to cool itself off. Only use aloe products on sunburned skin, moisturizers trap in the heat.
6. Keep the sun out.
Invest in room-darkening curtains to help keep the light and heat out more efficiently. Close windows and pull shades.
7. Avoid hot appliances.
Try not to use the dryer or oven as they add heat in the home. Air-dry clothes outside and try outdoor grilling or a slow cooker to keep the heat outside.
8. Slow down.
Avoid strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day (usually between 11am – 3pm). Staying indoors or in an air-conditioned area helps cool the body down. Spending only two hours in AC can help reduce heat stroke risk.
9. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water, even if not feeling thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol and caffeine.

In extreme heat, it’s important that we watch out for each other and stay informed about how to remain healthy when the thermometer climbs. Stay cool!

If you or someone you know is suffering from heat stroke or dehydration, go to the nearest Emergency Department or call 911.

MetroWest Medical Center’s Emergency Department is conveniently located in downtown Framingham at 115 Lincoln Street, Framingham, MA.