When the weather gets hot, most people instinctively seek a place that is cooler and more comfortable. However, not everyone is so fortunate. The frequency of heatstroke among persons age 65 and older is 12 to 13 times that found in other age groups. Also those of low socioeconomic status suffer more than others.
Heatstroke tends to occur more frequently among residents of homes without air conditioning or which are surrounded by only sparse growth of trees and shrubbery. Living in the upper floors of multi-storey building is also associated with heatstroke because of increased exertion from climbing stairs.
Other persons often suffering discomfort and heatstroke are military recruits, those exposed to high temperatures at work, the chronically ill or bedfast, alcoholics, the mentally ill, and those taking nervous-system drugs.
During hear waves those at highest risk should reduce their activity and avoid the heat as much as possible, staying in the coolest available place, not necessarily indoors. If possible, they should use an air conditioner or fan to cool and/or circulate the air. If unable to do this they should spend some time each day in an airconditioned place.
It is important to drink lots of water when it is hot. However, thirst is not a good indicator of need. As much as 50 percent more fluid than the amount dictated by thirst may be needed. Alcohol consumption should eliminated during very hot weather.
Salt tables should not be taken unless prescribed for a special condition.
If you find yourself in a hot place and you begin to feel uncomfortable, remember the three simple rules of preventing heatstroke:
1. reduce activity
2. spend time in an air-conditioned area
3. drink extra non-alcoholic liquids.