By Cheryl Wilkinson
Our bodies are designed to work hard to maintain an even internal temperature. Heat stroke is serious business, so knowing how to prevent it, the warning signs of it occurring and what to do about heat exhaustion and heat stroke can be lifesaving. The simple, common sense answer, of course, is “stay cool and hydrated.” Sounds easy enough — but it is more complicated than that.
Understand your risk level. Healthy people can be adversely affected by heatwaves, as can those who are very young and those 60 and better. Some medications and some long-term health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and dementia can lead to greater risk. As the body heats up, blood vessels close to the skin open to transfer heat back to the environment — this makes the heart work harder.
Sweating takes place for the same reason. In our dry climate, many people do not realize they are becoming dehydrated because the sweat evaporates immediately. For those not acclimated to high altitude, symptoms from heat are exacerbated and may be hard to distinguish from altitude sickness. Residences may remain quite warm at night if they heat up during the day. When it fails to cool down sufficiently at night, this places greater stress on the body. Even during rest, at 85 degrees, the body can lose nearly a half-gallon of water overnight.
• Reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption, as it can increase dehydration and worsen the effects of heat.
• Plan outdoor activities in the cooler parts of the day. If you work outdoors, try to plan heavier tasks during cooler hours.
• Help keep your indoor environment cool — opening windows at night and closing the southern- and western-facing windows and drapes during the heat of the day.
• Learn if your medicines put you at greater risk — diuretics, statins, lithium and medications for hypertension, epilepsy and Parkinson’s are all examples of drugs that can cause changes in the body that may make it harder for the body to sustain a healthy temperature.
Signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke:
• Tiredness, dizziness, fainting, confusion, irritability, visual problems, nausea, muscle cramps, headache.
• Other mild symptoms may include itchy heat rash and/or swollen feet and hands.
• Being dehydrated changes the balance of key minerals in the body, which can lead to seizures, loss of consciousness or heart failure and may result in death.
• Someone with heat stroke may stop sweating altogether, depriving them one of the body’s main cooling mechanisms.
What to do: If you, or someone you are with, is experiencing mild heat exhaustion symptoms, try to cool down. Basic first steps: Get into shade. Sit or lie down and raise feet. Take fluids. Place cool cloths or packs on armpits, wrists, ankles and the back of the neck. Heat exhaustion that cannot be alleviated may be a symptom of heat stroke that may require immediate medical intervention.
Our website provides information about ASI programs in Archuleta County and contact information for making reservations at The Community Café for take-out and for Meals on Wheels at: http://www.psseniors.org/.
The Community Café in the Pagosa Springs Senior Center is requesting volunteers to help with the lunch desk. Please call (970) 264-2167 to volunteer or for more information.
Meals on Wheels
The Senior Center Meals on Wheels program delivers approximately 3,000 fresh and frozen meals a year. We deliver fresh Meals on Wheels five days a week (and provide frozen Meals on Wheels for weekends) to homebound Archuleta County residents to help them stay healthy and independent in their own homes.
This program is vitally important because many seniors have little to no access to nutritious meals. They are often too frail or have health complications that prevent them from preparing meals for themselves or from using the Senior Center’s Community Café drive-thru meals pick-up site Monday though Friday.
The Senior Center needs volunteer Meals on Wheels Drivers for one day a week (or become part of our substitute driver team). Please join us as part of our driver team and build wonderful relationships with the seniors in our community. Call (970) 264-2167.
Dishes and china
Have old dishes or china that you no longer want to use or store? The Community Café is accepting donations of old dishes or china. Please call (970) 264-2167 for more information or to donate.
Take-out meals continue at Senior Center
In order to continue providing meals, the Senior Center is offering take-out hot meals and a salad with a drive-up option under the portico at the Ross Aragon Community Center.
These meals will be available Monday through Friday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. There is a $4 suggested donation for lunch for those age 60 and better. If you need to have your meal delivered, please call (970) 264-2167 to see if this option is available in your area.
The cost per meal for the public age 59 and under is $8.50. The meals include a salad, hot meal, drink and dessert or bread.
Please call (970) 264-2167 to make a reservation for pickup. We are also continuing our Meals on Wheels program.
There will be no games, classes or presentations during this time. The staff will be available by phone. If you need to speak to a staff member, please call (970) 264-2167.
Community Café menu
Thursday, July 15 — Pecan-crusted chicken with pecan cream sauce, mashed potatoes, buttered green beans, boule bread with butter, milk and salad.
Friday, July 16 — Pork ribs, cornbread salad, milk, salad and brownie.
Monday, July 19 — Beef, chili dog, corn on the cob, milk, salad and crisped rice treats.
Tuesday, July 20 — Cheese enchiladas with tomatillo sauce, Spanish rice, milk, salad and snickerdoodle cookies.
Wednesday, July 21 — Barbecued chicken, potato salad, milk, salad and peach cobbler.
Thursday, July 22 — Zuppa Toscana, carrots, breadstick with butter, milk and salad.
Reservations and cancellations are required. You can make a reservation at (970) 264-2167 by 9 a.m. the morning of the day you would like to drive through and pick up a meal.
For your convenience, you can make your reservations in advance or have a standing reservation on days you know you will always pick up. Please cancel if you cannot attend on your standing reservation days. We want to thank everyone for their support by observing our reservation policy. This helps ensure that everyone with reservations receives a meal and enables us to provide additional and healthier meals.
Due to COVID-19, food supplies have been affected. Substitutions will be made accordingly.