When it’s hot for a long stretch of time, Good Samaritans go into high alert for dogs left in hot cars, but there’s another group that also deserves special attention — seniors.
The problem is multifaceted; seniors are so used to enduring aches and pains that they may not readily recognize signs of dehydration and they may not want to complain about feeling unwell.
Additionally, seniors can be particularly susceptible to heat stress due to medical conditions or prescriptions they are taking, and limited mobility may leave them unable to escape a hot house and head somewhere, like a mall, with air conditioning.
In Vancouver, a new alert system is in place that strives to prevent heat-related deaths. Similar to air advisories that let people know when there’s a lot of smoke from a fire, this notification system warns people when a long period of hot weather may threaten public health.
We don’t have such a system here and it’s a heck of a lot hotter around Kamloops than the Lower Mainland.
But we do have residents that care and a small-town spirit that means knowing your neighbour is still an important part of daily life.
The heat can be a killer; a B.C. Centre for Disease Control study found heat waves in 2009 contributed to over 200 deaths across the province. So being alert to the needs of the elderly during hot days could literally save a life.
It may mean pressing past feeling you’re being nosy; if you’ve got elderly neighbours you haven’t seen for a few days, check in on them.
Ask what they’re doing to stay cool, how they’re feeling and if there’s anything you can do. Do they seem weak or confused? Are they dizzy, have a headache or feeling nauseous?
If so, encourage a cold cloth, cool bath or shower, a cool drink, lighter clothing, and turning on the air conditioning or a fan.
Then check in on them later.
They may not be as visible as pets left in cars, but seniors should be as much of a priority with the hot days upon us.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.