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HomeNewsHealth Unit Offers Tips For Staying Cool During Extreme Heat Events

Health Unit Offers Tips For Staying Cool During Extreme Heat Events

KAWARTHA LAKES-The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge (HKPR) District Health Unit is sharing reminders of health risks people can experience during extreme heat conditions, and how individuals and families can best prepare and stay protected this summer.

In Southern Ontario, heat warnings are issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada. Residents are encouraged to sign up to receive local weather alerts including extreme heat conditions so that they can take appropriate public health measures to protect themselves.

Officials say everyone’s health can be affected by extreme heat and hot weather conditions. However, some people are at a higher risk of experiencing heat-related health impacts including infants and children, older adults, people with pre-existing medical conditions and people taking certain medications, people who lack adequate shelter or who are unhoused, newcomers to Canada, outdoor workers, and sports/outdoor enthusiasts.

“Due to the impacts of climate change we are seeing an increase in temperature and duration when it comes to extreme heat conditions,” said Bernie Mayer, Manager of Environmental Health with the HKPR District Health Unit. “By understanding the risks and taking preventative measures to stay cool, hydrated and informed, you’ll better protect yourself and others during extreme heat conditions.”

Heat-related illnesses can develop quickly and should be monitored carefully. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Heat Rash: red or pink rash usually found on the neck, chest and/or elbow creases.
  • Heat Cramps: painful muscle cramps.
  • Heat Exhaustion: heavy sweating, weakness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and fainting.
  • Heat Stroke: headache, dizziness, confusion, and fainting; skin may be hot and dry or damp; this is a medical emergency and 9-1-1 should be called right away.

The HKPR District Health Unit emphasizes that heat-related illnesses are preventable, and it is important to stay cool and well-hydrated. Here are some steps you can take to prepare and get through extreme heat events:

  • Stay Cool: Avoid direct sun exposure and wear light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing. Avoid strenuous activities, take extra breaks, and plan outdoor activities during cooler parts of the day. Take cool showers or baths. Use a fan and aim the airflow in your direction. Spend time in air-conditioned spaces, such as a community centre, shopping mall, grocery store, or public library. Never leave people or pets inside a parked vehicle or in direct sunlight.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of cool liquids, especially water, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Include fruits and vegetables with high water content in your diet.
  • Stay Informed: Contact your local municipality for information on air-conditioned cooling centres during extreme heat. Sign up for local weather alerts to be notified of upcoming extreme heat conditions and take appropriate measures to protect yourself and others. If you are taking medication or have a health condition, be sure to consult with your healthcare provider or call Health811 to find out if your health risk increases in the heat or if your skin becomes more sensitive to ultraviolet (UV) rays.
  • Food Safety: Don’t keep food at room temperature for more than one hour during extreme heat conditions. Use a cooler with ice to keep food cool when travelling and avoid leaving groceries or food in the car. Always remember to keep food out of the temperature danger zone of 4°C to 60°C (40°F to 140°F). Harmful bacteria can grow in as little as two hours in this temperature range.

 

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