Taking precautions to stay cool to keep summer enjoyable is critical

No one needed to know what day the summer solstice fell on this year.

But most of us are gasping to know when the fall equinox gets here.

For the record, the summer solstice this year was observed on June 21 and the fall equinox begins Sept. 23.

Though we did get a break from the heat last weekend, look for it to be in the mid-80s again today and beyond this week.

Unfortunately, even before we officially marked summer’s arrival, we were dealing with the heat. More than half the days in June had above average temperatures.

That along with heat indexes — combined effects of the temperature and humidity of the air — approached the mid to high 90s and then some 100-plus on many days. Worse yet, that’s been the case for most of July too, and undoubtedly will be the case for some time to come.

Everyone responds to hot temperatures differently and everyone needs to take precautions.

But it’s safe to say, for older West Virginians, the heat can pose even more serious problems, which requires them to be smart and be aware of the factors that ramp up the risks..

Seniors are at increased risk of heat-related illnesses, known collectively as hyperthermia, including heat stroke, cramps and heat exhaustion.

There are any number of health-related factors that can increase the risks of hyperthermia, including heart, lung and kidney diseases, being substantially overweight or underweight, drinking alcohol or being dehydrated.

Lifestyle factors can also increase risk, including dwelling in extremely hot rooms, lack of transportation and overdressing.

Obviously, those at specially high risk should stay indoors on particularly hot and humid days. Drinking plenty of fluids and wearing light-colored, loose-fitting clothes will help you stay cool.

People without fans or air conditioners should keep their homes as cool as possible or go someplace cool. Seniors are also encouraged to visit public air conditioned places such as shopping malls, movie theaters or libraries.

And while it’s tough to be stuck indoors when the sun is shining, taking some safeguards will keep summer fun.

The drumbeat of hot temperatures across our state will eventually give way to cooler temperatures this year. But for now, temperatures above average look to be a constant — day to day.

And so should the precautions we take to keep cool and enjoy the weather.

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