ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — With extremely high temperatures on deck this week, it’s important to keep in mind that heat-related illnesses are still one of the leading weather-related killers in the U.S.

According to experts, seniors can be particularly susceptible to the dangers of extreme heat.

Ron Boyd, the president and CEO of the Local Office on Aging (LOA) in Roanoke, says some older people may be on medication that can inhibit the body’s reaction to heat.

On top of that, seniors have a tendency not to keep their homes as cool and some may not notice when it’s getting too hot, Boyd tells WFXR News.

“Sometimes seniors have multiple chronic conditions that may have a negative impact on their body readjusting to temperature,” Boyd explained.

However, if seniors struggle to take care of themselves, Boyd says it’s important for community members to look out for them, paying attention to an excess or absence of sweating, muscle cramps, irregular breathing, headaches, nausea, paleness, weakness, dizziness.

“Check on your elderly neighbors, family members, make sure they’re all right,” he said. “Just because they have air conditioning doesn’t mean it’s operating right.”

To avoid overheating in the first place, Boyd urges you need to dress light; to not rely on just a fan; and make sure you have somewhere air conditioned to stay during the day, whether that’s your home, a mall, or a community center. You should also make sure you’re drinking plenty of water.

The LOA also has a free cooling assistance program that provides box fans and air conditioners to those who qualify, but Boyd says they are limited because of this heat. You can also call to get help from one of the office’s care coordinators:

  • Alleghany Highlands: 540-962-0465
  • Botetourt County: 540-580-5085
  • Craig County: 540-864-6031
  • Roanoke Valley: 540-345-0451
  • Toll-free: 888-355-6222