Living with COPD: 5 Ways to Keep Cool this Summer

When summer turns up the heat that can spell trouble for those with COPD or other lung/breathing related illnesses. Extreme heat can cause some COPD symptoms to worsen even faster than viruses will. Keep an eye on your local weather reports for upcoming heat waves and plan accordingly. Here are 5 simple things you can do to avoid COPD complications from the heat this summer.

1. What to Watch Out For

As we mentioned above, watching the weather or staying abreast of the daily/weekly report will help you to stay on top of and be prepared for any heat waves. When reviewing the report you’ll want to watch for specific indicators such as: heat index and humidity. The heat index measures how hot the overall temperature feels when relative humidity is factored in.

It’s also important to watch for any “Heat Advisories.” If you see or hear this indication the safest thing to do would be to stay indoors in an air-conditioned area.

2. How to Stay Safe

Staying safe this summer means planning ahead and having a backup plan. It’s always best to have a backup plan, especially in the case that you lose power or your AC unit breaks down. Having your air conditioner serviced at the beginning of the summer is a great idea, this way it’s clean and working at full capacity.

Your backup plan could be to call the fire department, or have a friend or family member come retrieve you and take you to a place with electricity and air conditioning.

Another tip is to call your electric company and let them know you are a senior and oxygen user. This way, you will receive priority response should your area experience any outages.

Finally, do not leave your medication or oxygen therapy equipment out in the sun or in a hot car. If you are in a car, have the AC running and use a car window shade.

3. Things to Do

If it’s a particularly hot day outside and you have errands to run, family to visit, etc. it’s best to wait until the evening or early morning. Between the hours of 6 AM and 10 AM in the morning, and 6 PM and 9 PM in the evenings that is the coolest times of day for any outdoor activities.

If you want to go swimming or take a dip in a pool or lake, do so for only 40 minutes, then you’ll want to get out of the sun and heat. Use 30 SPF sunscreen and don't stay in the sun longer than 1 hour while wearing sunscreen, or any longer than 15 minutes if you aren't wearing it.

4. Foods to Eat

Drinking water is the most important tip, especially when it's hot. Be sure to drink at least 8 cups of water a day, or keep refilling a water bottle and keep it by you at all times. Take small sips throughout the day.

Eating cool and juicy foods without a lot of refined sugar is a great treat. Puree watermelon and other fruits and freeze them to make popsicles or juice them and freeze as ice cubes to put in glasses of water.

5. What to Wear

Lightweight, loose-fitting clothing in light colors is ideal. Skip trying to look glamorous when you go out and focus on being cool and comfortable. If you do all you can to keep your temperature down, it will help you avoid COPD flare-ups.

A hat with a wide brim will help shade you and shield your eyes from the bright sun.

Another tip is, if sandals aren't your thing, get some socks that are designed to keep your feet cooler and drier with breathable material.

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