Extreme Heat

Extreme heat, (often called heat waves), and increased humidity may pose a risk to your health and safety. Remember to take appropriate action to help protect yourself and your family from extreme heat.

Who is affected:

No one is exempt from the dangers posed by extreme heat events. Those most at risk from heat illnesses are the very young, older adults, those who are active in the heat, people with pre-existing health conditions or taking medication, and those without access to air conditioning.

Signs and symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion:

  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Headache
  • Rapid breathing and heartbeat
  • Extreme thirst (dry mouth or sticky saliva)
  • Decreased urination with unusually dark yellow urine
  • Changes of behaviour in children (like sleepiness or temper tantrums)

If you or someone in your care experiences any of these symptoms during extreme heat, move to a cool place immediately and drink cool liquids. Water is best.

Heat stroke is a medical emergency and must be treated. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately if you see someone who is either unconscious, confused or has stopped sweating. While waiting for help, move them to a cool place, apply cold water to large areas of their skin and clothing, and fan the person as much as possible.

How to protect yourself from extreme heat:

  • If you have a health condition or are taking medication, ask your pharmacist or doctor if this increases your health risk in the heat.
  • Visit neighbours, friends and older family members to make sure they’re cool and hydrated.
  • Drink plenty of cool liquids, especially water, before you feel thirsty to decrease your risk of dehydration. Thirst is not a good indicator of dehydration.
  • Reschedule or plan outdoor activities during cooler parts of the day.
  • Wear loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing made of breathable fabric.
  • Never leave people or pets inside a parked vehicle or in direct sunlight.
  • Spend a few hours in a cool place such as a tree-shaded area, swimming facility or an air-conditioned spot such as a public building or shopping mall.
  • Take cool showers or baths until you feel refreshed.
  • Prepare meals that don’t need to be cooked in your oven.
  • Block sun out by closing awnings, curtains or blinds during the day.
  • Avoid sun exposure. Shade yourself by wearing a wide-brimmed, breathable hat or using an umbrella.
  • Watch for heat alerts, and pay attention to poor air quality forecasts. Consult the Air Quality Health Index before heading outside.

Source: Healthy Canadians, Government of Canada

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Last updated: 2024-06-20