This week is a scorcher in New England, with 90+ degree temperatures and dry air. Area heat advisories warn people to keep cool and avoid pushing themselves too much.
For a number of reasons, seniors can be particularly vulnerable to heat-related emergencies. Public health officials offer the following tips for seniors and anyone else looking for a break from the heat.
- MBTA buses and trains are air conditioned! Find a seat, put down your packages, and ride for a bit to cool down between errands. Many stops are also also near shops, cafes, or stalls that sell cold drinks.
- If you’re staying home, taking a cool shower or bath can help a lot. Even a sponge bath or wetting only your head, neck, shoulders, and/or back can give a great deal of relief.
- Go to a swimming pool, lake, or pond–wearing sunscreen outdoors, of course!
– In Newton, try Crystal Lake or Gath Pool ($4 for senior residents).
– In Brookline, the Kirrane Aquatic Center ($3 for senior residents) is at the Brookline Hills T stop.
– The City of Boston’s Reilly Pool (free of charge! and open late on Tuesdays) is in Brighton, right on the Boston line, near the Reservoir/Cleveland Circle Green Line T stops.
- Many public parks have trees for shade and “splash pads” that spray water into the air. These water features can be used by anyone for a quick cooldown, from toddlers, to homebound commuters, to seniors, to pets! The spray will dry quickly and leave you feeling refreshed.
- Visit an indoor cooling center or air conditioned public building. Libraries, shopping malls, movie theaters, senior centers, and police stations are great places to cool down.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol, and drink plenty of cool water. Remember that water is heavy, so carrying a smaller bottle that you can refill as needed might be a good idea. Many restaurateurs and business owners are happy to let seniors refill water bottles (or to do it for you) during the summer–just ask!
- Popsicles and other cold treats are a great way to keep cool and hydrated. You can make your own pops using regular fruit juice and plastic freezer molds that are easily found at most grocery stores. Treat yourself!
- Plan your travel to avoid being outdoors in the hottest part of the day. The heat usually peaks around 3pm, so running errands and traveling in the mornings and early evenings is a good idea. Also, avoid strenuous activity like lifting, pulling, or carrying heavy packages or bags.
- As you walk, travel on the shady side of the street if possible, and take frequent breaks in shady spots as you make your way. Keep an eye out for trees, awnings, taller buildings, bus shelters, and the like. If you use a walker, taking one with a seat will allow you to take a break whenever you need to.
- Wear lightweight, breathable clothing. Try linen or lightweight cotton, especially if you wear long sleeves and pants to protect your skin from the sun.
- Wide-brimmed hats are another way to keep the sun off your face and neck.
- Carry a small, folding umbrella and use it in areas where shade is scarce.
- Never sit for long periods inside a car or taxi, and do not leave pets or children inside vehicles. Even cracking or opening the windows can allow you to overheat. Remain especially mindful of children, who might fall asleep inside cars without your knowing it. On days like these, being inside a car can be deadly. If you must wait with your car, park near some shade, get out of the car, and sit in the shade instead. Be aware that in both Newton and Brookline, it is against the law to idle a personal vehicle (e.g., to run the air conditioning) for more than 5 minutes. These laws are particularly important to observe on hot days, when air pollution can be especially harmful to people with respiratory difficulties.
- If your power goes out, call Eversource immediately at 800-592-2000 to report the outage. Tell them you are a senior and that your air conditioning is out.
- Be a help and check on your friends and neighbors! Seniors, children, and people with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to heat-related emergencies, and a quick knock on the door or phone call from you can potentially help keep someone safe.
In Newton, seniors can use yellow taxi vouchers to travel to and from cooling centers or swimming pools. In Brookline, seniors who qualify can get 50% discounted taxi coupons as well. If you feel you need help with information or advice on dealing with the heat, please call your local Senior Center or police station.
- Brookline: Senior Center 617-730-2777 or
police non-emergency 617-730-2222
- Newton: Senior Center (617) 796-1660 or
police non-emergency 617-796-2100
Do not underestimate the seriousness of a heat emergency–if you ever feel you are in danger or are not safe, call 911 immediately!
The links below offer more information to residents for dealing with the heat.