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  2002 Press Releases  

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CONTACT: Jan Costello
Phone: 217-785-9020, TTY: 1-800-252-8966

June 24, 2002

Seniors Need to be Extra Careful
When Hot Weather Hits

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois Department on Aging Director Margo E. Schreiber reminds senior citizens to take the necessary precautions to stay cool during periods of extreme heat and high humidity.

"Seniors in particular need to take special precautions to avoid serious health threats during days of excessive heat," Schreiber said. "As people age, the cooling system in their bodies weakens which makes their hearts work harder. This puts a lot of stress on older people – especially those with medical conditions, chronic disabilities, or with weight or alcohol problems."

Schreiber said humidity combined with temperature make up the heat index, which is similar to the wind chill factor in winter. If the temperature is in the 90s with high humidity, it can feel like itís well over 100 degrees.

When itís hot out, it is important to remember to:

  • Avoid long exposure to the sun

  • Drink plenty of fluids (water is best)

  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol

  • Spend as much time as possible in an air-conditioned or cool environment – either at home or at cooling centers (community shelters made available during heat emergencies)

  • Use fans in well-ventilated areas (a fan in a closed room simply redistributes the heat)

  • Have family, friends and neighbors check on seniors regularly to see how they are withstanding the heat

  • Never ignore danger signals like nausea, dizziness and fatigue. If you or anyone you know needs medical attention, call 911 immediately

  • Take cool baths or showers

  • Wear lightweight, light–colored clothing

  • Avoid strenuous activity, especially during hottest time of the day

  • Avoid heavy meals, using cooking ovens, and donít take salt tablets unless directed by a physician

  • Keep shades drawn and blinds closed, but windows slightly open

  • Keep electric lights off or turned down

During heat emergencies, communities are involved in door-to-door outreach; senior centers, adult day service sites and other familiar buildings serve as cooling centers, and information is provided on an ongoing basis through agencies serving seniors.

Chicago residents can also call 311.



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For more information, call the Illinois Department on Aging's Senior HelpLine at 1-800-252-8966 (Voice and TTY).

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