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Helpful summertime safety tips for active adults

Celebrate summer the smart way

Jennifer Rhodes-Kropf, M.D.'s picture

Summer is a great season for enjoying all that the outdoors has to offer with family and friends. But with time spent outdoors, comes the risk of some health hazards. Older bodies especially are less efficient at staying cool than younger ones, so seniors need to take a few extra summertime precautions.

My colleagues and I put together some tips to follow this season to ensure your summer is cool in all senses of the word.

Tip #1: Slather on the screen.

Avoid direct exposure to the sun during peak hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and be aware that you can get sunburned even if it’s cloudy. When spending time outdoors, be sure that you are protected by lathering on the sunscreen. Use a sunscreen that provides UVA and UVB protection and has an SPF (sunscreen protection factor) of 15 or higher. Reapply often, especially after perspiring or getting wet.

Tip #2: Play it cool.

Wear loose fitting clothing, sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats to stay cool when outdoors.

Beat the heat by planning outdoor activities in the early morning or early evening hours. Take regular breaks from physical activity, and stay in the shade when possible. Choose to spend the peak sun hours in well-ventilated, air-conditioned spaces such as movie theaters, malls, museums, libraries or the comfort of home.

Tip #3: Quench your body.

Make sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day—don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink, as thirst is often a sign that your body is already dehydrated. Other signs of dehydration include dry mouth, headache and dark-colored urine. If you develop these symptoms, reach for the nearest glass of water, and alert your physician as a safety precaution. Be aware that some medications you are taking may accelerate dehydration—as do caffeine and alcoholic beverages.

Summer is a great time to get active, but the summer heat can be dangerous, too. Heat stress, caused when the body overheats, can lead to heat stroke, a potentially fatal illness. As you make plans this summer, make safety a top priority by acting on our tips, and you’ll have a summer that’s just as worry-free as it is fun.

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Geriatrician

Dr. Rhodes-Kropf, is a staff geriatrician at HRC. She received her medical degree from the University of North Carolina and completed her internal medicine internship at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and her residency in internal medicine at Cornell University/New York Presbyterian Medical Center. Dr. Rhodes-Kropf, an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School, completed a geriatrics fellowship at Mount Sinai Hospital.

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