As I write this, it’s Labor Day and I could swear I just heard Drew, the nice weatherman on television say it’s 113 degrees here in East Contra Costa County. No, I am not kidding, that’s one hundred degrees, and thirteen more on top of that!
I like nice warm weather but getting really toasty like, well, burnt toast is not at all appealing. With this extremely unusual temperature and the fires that are decreasing air quality, COVID-19 is not the only reason to stay inside as much as possible. Seniors are most vulnerable to both of these issues but anyone with allergies, asthma or lung and heart-related concerns should consult their primary care doctor for advice on going out during the next week or so. According to Alexa, my in-house know-it-all, the temperatures should run into the high 80s to low 100s over the next seven days or so.
Along with practicing COVID-19 protocol — wearing a mask, washing hands frequently and social distancing — if you need to get supplies, visit the doctor or go out for other necessary items the best time to go is early in the morning when the weather is a bit cooler. Do your errands, gardening or other outdoor activities before the sun is blazing and the temperatures peak. Even if you are by yourself, it’s a good idea to wear that mask outside while the smoke is still in the air to protect your lungs. Last night at 9 p.m., I decided to go sit outside for some quiet time and fresh air. I turned right around and came back inside immediately since not only was the air still quite heavy, my backyard thermometer read 92 degrees. Hello air conditioning!
Obviously, I am not jogging or playing any tennis but that may be because I didn’t do those things before, but any rigorous activity should be curtailed until the air quality and the weather are more conducive. Even a walk, which I enjoy, is not advisable while the air is still on high alert. There are many activities for exercise that can be done indoors and are a lot safer, for the time being. I personally enjoy dancing around my house, but that is a whole other story!
Remember to drink lots of water throughout the day. Dehydration can sneak up on us and be extremely dangerous. If you are experiencing any indications of this, avoid coffee or tea as they are both diuretics and can accelerate the issue. Symptoms of dehydration can start with extreme thirst, dry or sticky mouth, less urination and/or darker urine, headaches and lightheadedness. This, of course, is dangerous for everyone if not addressed immediately but is especially menacing for seniors. If you feel these symptoms and know that your liquid intake has been minimal, (less than 8 cups a day) replenish the fluid level in your body by consuming clear fluids such as water (which is the best), clear broths, frozen ice pops, sports drinks (such as Gatorade), Pedialyte, coconut water and watermelon which is not only filled with water, it’s tasty. If the symptoms are severe call 9-1-1 or your doctor who may require intravenous fluids be given. Don’t let it get to that. Use your favorite glass or treat yourself to a new water bottle that you like and use that to drink your daily liquid intake.
Water is of major importance to all living things, but for humans, up to 60% of the adult body is water. The loss of over 10% of total body water can cause physical and mental deterioration, accompanied by severe thirst. If left unattended, dehydration can cause dire illness and even death if there is a total loss of between 15% and 25% of the body’s water.
These are uneasy times as we navigate the virus, the fires and the isolation. I implore you to not only stay hydrated but to please check on your neighbors, especially those who live alone. Make sure everyone you care about is contacted often and is stocked up with needed supplies, especially liquids. It is a time to band together in every way we can and keep each other safe. Like everything else, this will pass, eventually, but in the meantime, we owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to stay diligent so that when the skies clear and the weather cools down, we can enjoy the outdoors and look forward to happier times again. Stay safe and well.
Marla Luckhardt is a Brentwood resident who works with several local senior care and advocacy groups. Reach her at email@example.com.