Why Extreme Heat Puts People With IDDs at Risk
As summer arrives, it brings not just seasonally high temperatures, but additional risks associated with the ongoing climate crisis and periods of extreme heat. People with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDDs) are particularly vulnerable in these conditions due to various factors.
Some often have difficulty regulating their body temperature or communicating their discomfort; those with sensory processing challenges may feel overwhelmed by intense sun and heat. People with IDDs also face challenges in recognizing and responding to the symptoms of heat-related illness, making them more susceptible to heatstroke, dehydration, and other heat-related ailments.
Ways to Stay Cool During the Summer and Extreme Temperatures
Here are some ways people with IDDs and their caregivers can cool off and stay safe in high temperatures:
Stay hydrated. Encourage individuals with IDDs to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, even if they don't feel thirsty. Offer water, juices, and electrolyte-rich drinks to replenish lost fluids.
Dress appropriately. Opt for lightweight, loose-fitting clothing made of breathable fabrics. Hats and sunglasses can provide additional protection from the sun.
Seek shade and cool spaces. Cool your indoor environment by using fans, air conditioning, or cooling devices. Draw shades and curtains to block out the sun, and minimize the use of heat-producing appliances.
Use cooling products. Consider using cooling towels, fans, or cooling vests to regulate body temperature.
Modify activities. Engage in low-intensity or indoor activities during the hottest parts of the day. Plan outings or physical activities in the early morning or evening when temperatures are cooler.
Places to Get Relief from the Heat
If you can’t stay cool at home, here are some places you may be able to get relief:
Public cooling centers. Many communities establish public cooling centers during heat waves that offer air-conditioned spaces. Contact local authorities or search online for nearby cooling centers.
Swimming pools and water parks. Accessible swimming pools or water parks equipped with appropriate support and facilities can be a refreshing option for individuals with IDDs. Ensure that supervision and safety measures are in place.
Indoor entertainment, shopping, and cultural centers. Consider visiting museums, movie theaters, or shopping malls, which are typically air-conditioned.
Local community centers and libraries. Community centers and libraries often also have air conditioning and are welcoming public spaces for escaping the heat.
Nature in the shade or water. Seek out nature spots with ample shade, such as parks with shaded picnic areas or tree-covered trails. Visiting a body of water like a river, creek, lake, or ocean are also great natural ways to cool off.
Enjoy Summer Safely With Progressive Lifestyles
Progressive Lifestyles, Inc. is dedicated to providing innovative support services for people with disabilities. Our mission is to provide supportive and caring residential opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout Oakland County, Michigan. Browse our blog for additional resources to help you and your child live your best and healthiest lives.
A primary focus of our organization is to interact with the individuals we support through the “Culture of Gentleness” model. We seek to create a positive environment to help them feel safe and valued while maximizing praise, limiting demands, maintaining consistent structure, and reducing stress during transitions.