Shade Brigade reminds senior citizens to stay cool in summer heat

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - Duane is 92. Blanche is 93.

And as another summer scorcher heats up, the couple are in great shape.

Meaghan Thompson aims to keep it that way.

Thompson, the community relations director for Emeritus in Springfield, knows heat can be deadly - and that the citizens most at risk are seniors.

Thompson told KVAL News Thursday, "They wait until it's too late to react to their dehydration. So honestly, they sit there and say, you know, I'm not that thirsty and I'm OK."

People 65 and over are more at risk for heat illness - and elders are what the Emeritus Senior Living community in Springfield specializes in.

Even out in the community.

For the 7th year, the company's Shade Brigade has set out to visit seniors in their homes to make sure they are keeping cool.

Emeritus relies on referrals from churches, doctors and neighbors to identify the 30 or so seniors they visit each month.

Thompson doesn't show up empty handed - she brings water, popsicles, fruit and juice to the seniors she visits, a way to remind them to stay hydrated during the hot, dry summer months.

Thompson says it's gratifying to help so many seniors stay independent, adding, "It's a great opportunity to give back to them.

Make sure that they're safe, taken care of, and that they know people care about them."

Practical tips for Friends and Family

Learn more about:

Symptoms of Heat-Induced Ailments

Dehydration - thirst, less frequent urination

Prickly heat bumps - irritating skin rash

Cramps - painful muscle contractions

Edema - swelling of hands and feet

Exhaustion / Fatigue - characterized by clammy skin, paleness, dizziness, nausea, fever, and headache

Symptoms of Heat Stroke

Seek immediate medical help if you or someone else develops the following symptoms. Heat Stroke is the most severe heat illness and is a life-threatening situation.

Lethargy, sluggishness

Rapid heart rate and breathing

Confusion, disorientation, agitation, irritability

High body temperature

Intense muscle aches, fever, diarrhea or nausea

Convulsing, fainting, seizure, loss of consciousness


Caring for a Heat Stroke Victim Until Help Arrives

While you are waiting for help to arrive you can assist the person by doing the following:

Get the person out of the heat to a cooler environment. Take them indoors if possible.

Fan the person with a newspaper or towel to cool the body.

Loosen or remove clothing and sprinkle the skin lightly with water.

Elevate feet to direct blood flow back toward the head.

If available, apply ice-packs to the groin area or armpits.

Risk of Heat Related Illness

Some people are at greater risk than others to suffer heat-related illness:

Infants and young children

People aged 65 and older

Those persons who are physically ill, or have heart disease or high blood pressure

Those persons who must work in / wear protective equipment: helmets, respirators, heavy clothing

How to Beat the Heat - The Do's and Don'ts:


Use air conditioners or spend time in air-conditioned locations such as malls and libraries

Use portable electric fans to exhaust hot air from rooms or draw in cooler air

Take a cool bath or shower

Minimize direct exposure to the sun

Stay hydrated - regularly drink water or other nonalcoholic fluids

Eat light, cool, easy-to-digest foods such as fruit or salads

Wear loose fitting, light-colored clothes

Check on older, sick, or frail people who may need help responding to the heat

Limit exercise to moderate activity and rest whenever necessary

Exercise during cooler periods of the day such as the early morning or late evening hours

Consult your health care provider or pharmacist to see which medicines are affected by excessive heat conditions

Know the symptoms of excessive heat exposure and the appropriate responses.


Direct the flow of portable electric fans toward yourself when room temperature is hotter than 90f

Leave children, the elderly or pets alone in cars for any amount of time

Drink alcohol, or drinks that contain caffeine or large amounts of sugar to try to stay cool

Eat heavy, hot, or hard-to-digest foods

Wear heavy, dark clothing

Exert yourself excessively