By Lori Stevens, Certified Concierge Care Advisor

That time of year is quickly approaching, sunshine and summer, the time we all love so much.  However, when we think back to last summer, the memories of it may not be so great for some of us.  Over 200 people in Washington state died as a result of the excessive heat wave we had, not to mention the thousands who became very ill.  According to the 2022 Farmer’s Almanac, our region is predicted to experience another very warm and dry summer.  While not specific, this year we have the opportunity to get a jump on preparing a little better for what may eventually come.

First, many of us do not have air conditioning.  It is a quite expensive luxury that those of us in the Puget Sound area rarely require.  In years past, we rarely saw more than 7-10 days per year of over 90-degree weather.  Well, those times have changed, as proven to us last year.  Seniors especially are at a very high risk of having heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and dehydration.  This can come on quite quickly and unexpectedly, with little warning.  Here are some tips that you might think about for yourself or your senior before a crisis is at hand:

Portable Air Conditioning—buy a portable air conditioner before they are all sold out!  Don’t wait until the last minute when everyone is racing to Home Depot or Costco to grab one of these.  A small portable air conditioner can be a life saver during the worst heat wave.  Although they are small and may only cover a certain amount of square footage, they are still useful.  A suggestion might be to put the conditioner in a bedroom, or another closed off room, so you can have a “cooling” room.  This room would be the room you plan to spend most of your time in during a heatwave.  This is a less expensive option that purchasing a central air system for the entire house but helps none the less.

Watch the Weather Report—look at the weather predictions 14 or more days out.  Last year the Washington Coast (Long Beach peninsula, Ocean Shores, etc.) were 25 degrees cooler than the temps we had in the Seattle area for that long heatwave.  Not to mention the ocean breezes and beaches.  If it looks like a heat wave is a comin’, quickly book several days at the ocean.  That’s exactly what thousands of people did last summer, but if you waited until just a few days before the heat came, you were out of luck!

Have a Plan—Think ahead of what you can do to avoid the heat, especially during the daytime hours.  There are several places you can go with air conditioning, or that provide “shelter centers” to help people stay safe.  These may include but are not limited to: Libraries, Senior Centers, Community Centers, shopping malls and grocery stores, movie theaters, and more.  Or does a friend or family member have air conditioning?  Talk with them BEFOREHAND about the possibility of staying over a few nights.

Other Heat Safety Tips:

  • Wear loose fitting clothing
  • Drink plenty of water, even if you are not thirsty
  • Avoid excessive activity
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol
  • Eat smaller meals throughout the day
  • If safe to do so, open several of your windows after dark to let the warm air out, then close them in the morning, keeping shades and blinds closed as much as possible throughout the day
  • Seek medical attention immediately if you feel dizzy, light-headed, chilled, or disoriented

With some forethought and planning, you will have a jump on any heatwave we may have this summer, staying safe and comfortable until cooler days come.