As we head into the heat of summer (some of us have already been experiencing heat in the triple digits!), we wanted to share a few tips to help make this summer fun and safe for you and your consumer:
1) Drink plenty of water. Make sure to talk to a doctor about the right fluid levels for you and your consumer. Use reusable water bottles that are “BPA free” and avoid leaving regular plastic bottles in the car or under direct sunlight for too long.
2) Replace salt and calories. Heat and physical activity will cause you and your consumer to burn extra calories and lose salt through sweat. Check with a doctor or nutritionist, but you will probably need to incorporate additional or different drinks and foods. Healthy Choices: Broths and soups (contain sodium); fruit juice, soft fruits, vegetables (containing potassium); sports drinks that contain electrolytes.
3) Avoid sun exposure during peak sun hours (10 AM – 6 PM) and remember sunscreen! Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before going out in the sun, and reapplied if swimming, sweating or toweling off. Make sure to pay special attention to how much your consumer is sweating and touching their skin, as this can tell you when you’ll need to re-apply!
4) Look for shade whenever possible. Going out to parks can be fun for you and your consumer, but make sure to secure a spot in the shade to avoid heat exhaustion.
5) Plan outings to local museums and indoor cultural events (even an indoor shopping mall). Sometimes even though it’s a beautiful day outside you can have more fun (and stay cool!) indoors where it’s air-conditioned.
6) Don’t forget — a wheelchair can get hot. When metal and plastic surfaces on a wheelchair are exposed to direct sunlight for a long time, they get hot. It doesn’t take long for the metal on a wheelchair to potentially burn you or your consumer. More Info: http://www.powerandmobility.com/summertime-safety-tips-wheelchair-users-caregivers/
7) Give your consumer a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath. This alleviates symptoms of heat exhaustion and lowers the risk of heat stroke. Feel free to repeat throughout the day and before bed on hot nights which will help your consumer sleep better. Video on how to give a sponge bath: http://youtu.be/hYXYcOHT6aE
8) Build a backyard water park. This may seem like a lot of work, but it’s actually fun and rewarding, especially if your consumer is a child. One easy and safe way to create water fun is to use a water hose and manually create a variety of sprays using your fingers and hands. Special Note: Sit your consumer on a shower curtain or towel on the lawn for more comfort. You can also have a variety of “water rides,” including: a small splash pool or garden sprinkler to run through. Sometimes a different one each day helps mix things up! Video: Water Safety for Families with Children with Special Needs http://youtu.be/j2Sjx1S-g9M
9) Create your own air conditioning. If your home or apartment does not have an air conditioning system, you can create your own by filling a container with ice and placing it in front of your fan. The fan will blow chilled air into the room. A similar effect can be done by placing a chilled damp towel over a chair and allowing the fan air to blow through it.
10) Have fun! Above all, the best way to beat the heat is to have a good time with people you love.
Looking for more information and resources? Here are some we recommend: http://www.wellchild.org, http://www.diabetes.org, http://www.heart.org and make sure to follow us on Twitter @seiuULTCW for immediate updates.