Heat Advisory Triggers Warnings for Vulnerable Populations

The extreme heat that has been affected large portions of the United States this summer is expected to continue. Nursing homes, homecare agencies, and other providers should educate their staff on the dangers of prolonged exposure to extreme heat, which may cause serious or even life-threatening conditions, particularly in the elderly. Preventive strategies should be implemented.

Elderly people and those with underlying medical conditions who are exposed to high temperatures are at risk of heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.

It is recommended that healthcare providers, agencies, and nursing homes alert and monitor patients/residents who are susceptible to heat-related illnesses, make sure they are drinking enough cold fluids (water or fruit juice) to stay hydrated, even if they are not thirsty, and are wearing light-colored, lightweight clothing during the day. Strenuous physical activity should be avoided and/or monitored. Cold showers or baths may be used cool down, especially if the patient begins to show signs of heat-related illness. The most effective way of preventing heat-related illness is to expose patients or residents to air-conditioning for at least a few hours each day. Closing window blinds and turning off lights may also help alleviate heat inside. Incorporating cold foods into the patient’s/resident’s diet may also reduce the effects of extreme heat.