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Cape Girardeau summers have a lot going for them—sunshine, ice cream cones by the riverfront, going for walks, grandkids free from school enjoying outdoor sports, and more. But the high heat and humidity can also be difficult to endure, even for Missouri weather veterans. As the warm trends continue into August and September (and, let’s face it, sometimes October), it’s important to keep heat safety in mind so you can keep enjoying the good things summer has to offer.

As we age, it gets harder for our bodies to adapt to sudden or extreme fluctuations in temperature. Older adults are also more likely to have health conditions or take prescription medications that affect temperature regulation and even hydration levels.For example, if you have high blood pressure or heart problems, you might be prescribed a diuretic, aka water pills, which can make you more susceptible to dehydration.

Here are five tips to keep in mind when it heats up outside.

Stay hydrated

Drinking at least eight glasses of water a day is always a good idea, but it’s especially important during the heat. You should drink more water than usual as a rule of thumb, even if you aren’t thirsty. Dehydration can sneak up on you, and you don’t have to feel thirsty to become depleted.

Stay away from sugary drinks like soda or lemonade when in the heat. The high sugar content can actually cause you to lose more fluids. Sports drinks like Gatorade can help replenish salt levels if you’ve been sweating, but be careful if you’re watching your sodium levels. Talk to your doctor about sports drinks if you’re on a salt-restricted diet.

Dress for the occasion

Taking in some sun is fun and great for you. However, as good as the sun can be, you still need to protect yourself while enjoying catching those rays. When spending time outside, you should wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, sunglasses, and hats that shade your face. Wide-brim hats are ideal, but any hat with a brim is better than none.

Always remember to apply sunscreen, even if you won’t be outside for hours—sunburns can start to occur in as little as ten to fifteen minutes for pale-skinned individuals. And just because it’s overcast doesn’t mean you can skip the sunscreen; harmful UV rays are still able to penetrate cloud cover. Sunburns can be more severe in older adults, so preventing them in the first place is your best bet.

Plan fun indoor activities

Summertime isn’t just about the outdoors! Since grandkids are out of school, there are plenty of indoor activities you can enjoy together. Going to the movie theater to see a film and eat popcorn, checking out books at the library, putting together crafts, or visiting a museum are just a few great options for summer memory making. And let’s be honest—eating ice cream in the air conditioning is still a pretty great deal.

Check on one another

This one is good advice just in general, but especially during excessive heat, it's a good habit to check in with your friends and neighbors to make sure they’re staying cool and feeling well. And then they can return the favor for you!

Know the symptoms

Heat exhaustion can creep up on a person, so it’s important to know the symptoms so you can notice them in yourself and others around you. Some of the most common symptoms are excessive sweating, a flushed face or redness on lighter skin tones, headache, nausea, dizziness, and confusion. If these symptoms are present, get into the shade or preferably air conditioning as quickly as possible and rehydrate. Here is a complete reference from the CDC of symptoms and actions to take.

Keep these tips in mind, and stay safe out there while you enjoy this time of year. It’ll be snowing again before we know it!

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