This Version Posted: June 30, 2020
During extremely hot weather, it’s important to protect your health by taking precautions to beat the heat. With the current COVID-19 pandemic, coping during a heat wave can be more complex. That’s why it’s essential to maintain a 2-metre (6 feet) distance from others, cover your cough and wash hands frequently — especially if cooling off in an indoor space.
Read on to learn about tips to avoid heat-related illness during COVID-19.
Heat-related illnesses such as dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke can be very dangerous, especially for infants, older adults, and people with chronic diseases. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
- heavy sweating
- muscle cramps
If you experience any heat-related illness or symptoms, seek immediate medical attention. But remember, if you have symptoms of COVID-19, please call ahead if possible to inform health care providers or first responders so they can take appropriate preventive measures
Warnings Issued Ahead of Heat Waves
The Health Unit will issue public warnings in the lead-up to extremely warm conditions in its region:
- A heat warning will be issued when day-time temperatures are forecast to be 31°C or higher, with a minimum day-time low of 20°C or higher, for two consecutive days. A heat warning is also issued if the humidex will be 40°C or higher for two consecutive days.
- An extended heat warning is issued when the same conditions apply, but the heat event is expected to last for three or more days in a row. Notifications will be posted on the Health Unit’s Facebook page, Twitter page, and website.
Tips to Beat the Heat (Including During COVID-19)
During any heat wave, but especially during COVID-19, the Health Unit advises people to:
- Avoid going out in the sun or heat when possible.
- Stay cool, and if possible, stay in an air-conditioned place.
- If your home does not have air conditioning, seek a cool public location such as a municipal cooling center to cool down while following physical distancing rules during this time of COVID-19. To see if there is a cooling centre in your community, contact your local municipality.
- If you have been instructed by a health care provider or the Health Unit to self-isolate due to COVID-19, do NOT visit a cooling centre. Instead, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020, for advice on how to create a personal plan to stay cool.
- When outdoors, stay in the shade as much as possible. If you plan to go outside during a very hot day, do so early in the morning or evening when it is cooler.
- Avoid outdoor sports and physical activity.
- Wear loose-fitting, light clothing and a wide brimmed hat.
- Currently, many people are wearing a face covering (or homemade mask) to reduce the spread of COVID-19. During high heat and humidity, wearing a mask can make breathing difficult. That’s why when outdoors, staying 2 metres (6 feet) apart is best. Reserve the mask for use indoors for short periods of time when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
- Drink lots of water, even if you don’t feel very thirsty. Avoid alcohol, coffee/tea and pop.
- Check in regularly by phone or online with vulnerable family, friends, neighbours and others who could be affected by the heat. These include children, older adults, and persons with chronic illnesses, including those who may be self-isolating or limiting trips from home due to COVID-19. Make sure they are OK and are well-hydrated.
- Eat light, cool foods, and avoid heavy meals that involve using the oven or other hot appliances.
- Keep shades, drapes and blinds closed on the sunny side of your home, but keep windows open slightly. If you do not have air conditioning, use fans.
- Keep lights off or turned low.
- Take a cool bath or shower periodically, or cool down with cool, wet towels.
- Never leave a child or pet in a closed, parked vehicle.