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KEEP YOUR COOL

- Health Unit Advises Ways For Area Residents to Cope During Periods of Extreme Heat, Humidity and Smog -

With the dog days of August here, public health officials are advising ways for people to keep their cool during periods of extreme heat and sizzling temperatures.

Staff with the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit say staying cool, drinking plenty of fluids and using common sense are the best precautions to take in the midst of ‘humidex advisories’ and ‘smog advisories’ issued by Environment Canada that affect the City of Kawartha Lakes, Haliburton County and Northumberland County.

“Steamy, smoggy summer days can take their toll on people, resulting in heat-related illness,” says Richard Ovcharovich, Manager of Environmental Health with the HKPR District Health Unit. “During these periods, we strongly advise local residents to seek cool places and drink plenty of water, even if they are not thirsty, as heat illness can occur in a short period of time.”

Heat-related illness can occur when a person’s body is unable to compensate for the heat and properly cool, he adds. Cramping and exhaustion may result, as can heat stroke. Symptoms of heat stroke include headache, dizziness, confusion and fainting. Skin can also become hot and dry, or there may be sweating due to high body temperature. This is a medical emergency that can prove fatal if not treated, so it is essential to seek immediate help from a health care provider.

Local residents should not overdo it either during extremely hot temperatures. “We advise people to use common sense to beat the heat,” says Ovcharovich. “Spending a lot of time outdoors or doing strenuous work in extreme heat conditions can be bad for you, so it may be wise to put off these activities for a day or two.”

To avoid heat-related illness, the Health Unit advises people to:

  • Regularly check up on friends, family and neighbours who may be alone and at high risk during a heat wave.
  • Drink plenty of water and natural fruit juices through the day to stay cool and hydrated. Avoid consuming alcohol, coffee, cola and other drinks that can cause dehydration.
  • Eat light, cool foods, and avoid using the oven or other hot appliances.
  • Avoid going out in the blazing sun or heat when possible. If you must go outside, stay in the shade as much as possible.
  • Wear light, loose fitting clothes. When outside, wear a wide-brimmed hat to cover your head and always remember to apply sunscreen (with a Sun Protection Factor of 15 or higher).
  • Stay in air-conditioned rooms, either at home, a friend’s place or public places such as malls, libraries, community centres or specially designated facilities. To find out if there are ‘cooling centres’ in your community, call your local municipality.
  • Keep window shades or drapes drawn and blinds closed on the sunny side of your home. Consider going to the basement or opening up windows to create a cross breeze, especially earlier and later in the day.
  • Use fans to draw cool air into your home at night, but do not rely on fans as the primary cooling device during extended periods of excessive heat.
  • Take a cool bath or shower periodically or cool down with cool, wet towels.
  • Never leave a child or pet in a parked car, or sleeping outside in direct sunlight.

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For media inquiries, contact:

Richard Ovcharovich, Manager, Environmental Health, HKPR District Health Unit, (705) 324-3569.

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