Summer in a beautiful beach town like Amelia Island is a slice of paradise. With endless outdoor recreation opportunities in the region, there is always something to do. But seniors need to take care when outside in the Florida heat because they are at higher risk for heat-related illness such as heat exhaustion.
What Is Heat Exhaustion?
Heat exhaustion is a health condition caused by overexposure to high temperatures, which results in your body overheating. Heat exhaustion is particularly concerning for seniors, as those who are 65 or older are at higher risk of developing the condition because of underlying health conditions or side effects from certain medications. Common medications that can contribute to the risk of heat exhaustion include heart and blood pressure treatments such as diuretics and beta blockers, as well as allergy treatments such as antihistamines.
What Are the Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion in Seniors?
Symptoms to watch for that may indicate you or a companion is experiencing heat exhaustion include:
- Profuse sweating
- Pale, clammy skin and goosebumps, even in the heat
- Rapid heartbeat
- Dizziness or fainting
- Dark-colored urine
- Stomach cramps
- Muscle cramps
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
How to Avoid Heat Exhaustion
If you are going to be outside for any length of time, follow these tips to stay safe:
Dress for the weather
Lightweight, loose-fitting clothing will allow your body to cool properly. Overdressing or wearing thick, nonbreathable fabrics can cause overheating.
Drink plenty of fluids like water and sports drinks. Avoid alcohol and highly caffeinated drinks because they tend to cause dehydration.
Protect your skin
Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Reapply regularly, especially after swimming. Broad-brimmed sun hats, sunglasses, and umbrellas are also great choices for additional skin protection, but they don’t replace sunscreen!
Avoid the hottest part of the day
Plan an activity indoors between the hours of noon and 4 p.m. The Florida heat is at its most intense during this time, so plan outdoor activities for early in the morning or in the evening whenever possible. If you have to be out in the heat of the day, be sure to drink plenty of fluids and take frequent rests in a shady or air-conditioned location.
Know your risk factors
Be aware of how the medicines you take may contribute to your risk of heat exhaustion. If you have suffered a heat-related illness in the past, you are at a higher risk of developing another. Ask your doctor whether any existing health conditions may also increase your sensitivity to heat.
What to Do If You Think You Have Heat Exhaustion
If you suspect you are experiencing symptoms of heat exhaustion, take action quickly to avoid more serious heat-related health issues, such as heatstroke. Get out of the heat immediately and sit in an air-conditioned building or vehicle if you can. If you can’t get inside, find a shady spot.
Loosen or remove any tight-fitting or unnecessary clothing and apply an ice pack or cool compress to your skin. Be sure to drink plenty of nonalcoholic, noncaffeinated beverages to stay hydrated. Sports drinks are best in this case because they hydrate and replace lost salt.
If symptoms persist after 15 minutes, call for emergency medical help.
Fun Indoor Activities to Help Seniors Beat the Heat
Save the beach for sunrise or sunset and check out one of the indoor entertainment options in and around Amelia Island.
Go to a museum
Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach have museums to fit a wide variety of interests. For history buffs, check out the Amelia Island Museum of History. Those with the sea in their blood won’t want to miss the Maritime Museum of Amelia Island. If fine art is more your style, you will find plenty to love at one of many galleries, including Blue Door Artists and Art on Centre, in the heart of Fernandina Beach.
See a movie
There is no better way to beat the Florida heat than sitting in a dark, ice-cold, air-conditioned movie theater. Local favorite B&B Theatres Amelia Island 7 offers reserved seating, reclining chairs, and closed captioning.
Cruise around town
Amelia Island offers several transportation options for seniors, but the Island Hopper is a great way to sit back and enjoy a climate-controlled ride around historic Amelia Island while you wait for the heat to abate. This jump-on, jump-off service lets you stop for ice cream or a bit of shopping before dropping you off right at the beach for a sunset stroll.
Take advantage of all the summer fun Amelia Island has to offer, but play it smart and take precautions before heading out into the Florida heat. Follow these sun-smart tips to stay safe and healthy and have the best summer ever!