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Spring and Summer Safety for Older Adults

Image shows an older man standing on a hot sidewalk and drinking from a water bottle.

Severe spring and summer weather can be hard for anyone to deal with but, for many reasons, older adults may have a harder time adjusting to severe weather. Severe spring and summer weather in Ohio may include severe thunderstorms, tornados, floods and flash floods, high winds, excessive heat, fog, and more.

Prepare for Severe Weather

Disasters Don’t Wait. Make an Emergency Plan Now. 

Every household should have an emergency kit and plan. Older adults may have additional things to consider including in their kit and plans. Learn what you should include.

The Ohio Department of Insurance offers a Severe Weather Toolkit to help Ohioans be safer and more financially prepared when severe weather strikes, as well as help them navigate the recovery process.

Know Severe Weather Terms

The National Weather Service monitors weather conditions and may issue watches, warnings, or advisories when dangerous weather is expected. 

  • Watches - A weather watch means that a potentially dangerous weather event could happen in your general area, but forecasters do not yet know exactly if, when, or where. When a watch is issued for your area, pay extra attention to weather information and be prepared to take action if a warning or advisory is issued. Watches may be issued for: Excessive heat, floods and flash floods, high winds, severe thunderstorms, tornados, and other conditions.
  • Warnings - A weather warning means that a dangerous weather event is happening or is very likely to happen. When a warning is issued for your area, listen to forecasters' advice and act right away to protect yourself and your property. Warnings may be issued for: Excessive heat, floods or flash floods, high winds, severe thunderstorms, tornados, and other conditions.
  • Advisories - A weather advisory means that a serious weather event is happening or about to happen. Advisories are generally issued for weather that is less dangerous, but still requires caution protect yourself and your property. When an advisory is issued for your community, pay attention to weather information, be extra careful, and be ready to protect yourself and your property if needed. Advisories may be issued for: Dense fog, heat, winds, floods or flash floods, and other conditions.

Learn more about weather terms from the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness.

Heat IS Severe Weather

As we age, our bodies do not adjust as well to high temperatures, humidity, or sudden changes as they did when we were younger. Plus, chronic health conditions and the medications we take to treat them can change how our bodies respond to heat. Common types of heat-related illnesses that affect older adults include:

  • Heat cramps are Muscle cramps, most often in the legs, caused by not drinking enough to replace fluids and nutrients lost to sweating
  • Heat exhaustion is a potentially life-threatening condition caused by not enough fluids, hot environments and high body temperatures.
  • Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition caused when the body is unable to regulate its own internal temperature in a hot and humid environment.

Extremely hot days are severe weather. When high temperatures are in the forecast, tollow these tips to protect yourself or older loved ones from heat-related illness:

  • Drink plenty of cool, non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Wear lightweight clothing.
  • Rest frequently.
  • Seek an air-conditioned environment.
  • Remain indoors during the hottest part of the day.
  • Avoid strenuous activity when it is hot.
  • Take a cool shower, bath or sponge bath.

Learn to recognize the symptoms of heat-related illness. These include: weakness, lightheadedness, nausea, rapid heartbeat, headache, unusual skin temperature, disorientation. If you or a loved one have any of these symptoms, move to a cooler place and seek medical attention immediately.

If you or a loved one are not able to keep your home a safe and comfortable temperature during very hot days, go somewhere cool where you can stay a few hours. This could be a restaurant, movie theater, shopping mall, senior center, public library, a friend or loved one's home, or other similar location. Dial 2-1-1 or contact your area agency on aging to ask about available cooling centers in your community.

Keep Utilities Connected

Ohio state agencies and local partners can help connect low income Ohioans of all ages with help to deal with the costs of heating or cooling their homes. Learn about Energy Assistance.

Check Your Neighbor

During extreme weather (including very hot days), check on older neighbors and loved ones to ensure they are safe and healthy. Key questions to ask include:

  • Do they have safe food and water?
  • Is the temperature in their home comfortable and conditions safe?
  • Do they need medical attention?
  • Do they have electricity?
  • Do they have alternatives for medical equipment that requires electricity?
  • Who will help if they need it?

More tips for checking on your older loved ones and neighbors

Prevent Falls

When spring and summer arrive in Ohio, we can get out and enjoy the outdoors and get some much-needed exercise. However, severe spring and summer weather and other conditions can increase your risk of falling. Learn how you can prevent falls.

Avoid Weather-Related Scams

Often, following severe weather, contractors may roll into a neighborhood, offering to repair damage caused by the storm. While many respectable businesses still go door-to-door to meet potential customers, you should always be careful about people who come to your home unexpectedly. They don't always have your best interests in mind. The Ohio Attorney General warns consumers to be alert to signs of home repair scams, such as:

  • They claim they can start work immediately, have the materials left over from another job, or offer some other reason you should accept their offer right away.
  • They ask for a large down payment or ask you to sign over your insurance settlement check.
  • Once you've paid, they may not return to do the work, or the work they do may be incomplete or poor-quality.
  • They pressure you to decide right away and refuse to give you written information about their work.

If you're not sure whether you can trust a contractor, refuse their offer and call local law enforcement to report a suspected scam.

Learn more about scams and fraud targeting older adults.