UPDATE | Keeping the elderly safe in the extreme heat

Published: Jul. 19, 2019 at 2:28 PM EDT
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UPDATE 7/19/19 @ 4:30 p.m.

With the heat index near 100 degrees and even higher, many people are planning to stay inside or head to the local pool. Before you head out the door, though, experts recommend checking on elderly neighbors and loved ones.

The heat index is expected to reach 105 degrees, triggering an


"Some of them might not have had visitors for quite some time, and they might be in serious distress and you not know it," Kanawha County Emergency Management Director C.W. Sigman said.

Sigman said it's harder for the elderly to regulate their body temperatures. Factors that could increase the risk of hyperthermia include age-related skin changes, diseases, high blood pressure, medications, reduced sweating, alcohol, weight and dehydration.

It is important for the elderly to stay hydrated, stay in the air conditioning, wear lightweight clothing and take cool showers or baths.

"They might not notice how hot they're getting. They might think they're cold and they're really burning up," Sigman said.

If an elderly person does not have air conditioning, Sigman said it is important to get them to a cooling center or a home with air.

Sigman recommends checking on elderly neighbors and loved ones periodically during extreme temperatures.

"At least go knock on the door," he said. "If you can provide them some cool water or a place to get out of the heat for a little bit, that would be a good thing to do right now."

For those who do have working air conditioning, experts recommend avoiding a stove or oven and keeping the blinds closed to keep the temperature inside their home down.

If you notice signs of heat illness, like confusion, headaches or nausea, seek medical attention immediately.

"We have to use due care and caution for everybody. The elderly and the young are the most vulnerable right now, but all of us are vulnerable and we need to take it serious," Sigman said.


Now, more than ever, you need to check on your elderly loved ones.

AARP officials say the elderly are more vulnerable during a heat wave. The heat index is expected to reach 105 degrees, triggering an


Experts say people are more at risk for heat-related illnesses as they age. That's because of a number of reasons including age-related changes to the skin, poor blood circulation, high blood pressure, or certain medications. The elderly can fall victim to heat exhaustion and heat stroke very quickly.

Keep the blinds closed and the doors shut for elderly people with air conditioning. If they lose air conditioning or don't have it, take an elderly loved one to another home, senior center, or a cooling center.

Emergency officials recommend checking on elderly neighbors as well on hot days.

If you think someone is suffering from a heat-related illness, call 911 and get them out of the heat quickly. Apply a cold washcloth to their neck, wrists, and armpits.