Beat the Heat: Your Ultimate Guide to Staying Cool and Safe in Extreme Heat
PORT HOPE, ON (July 18, 2023) – As the impacts of climate change become increasingly evident, extreme heat conditions will become more frequent and intense. Rising temperatures pose significant health risks and require proactive measures to protect you and your family from the challenges of extreme heat. The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPR District Health Unit) highlights the importance of being prepared and informed to ensure your safety and well-being during extreme heat events this summer.
Heat-related illnesses can develop rapidly. 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.
Those who are at higher risk of developing heat-related illnesses include people who are more sensitive to hot temperatures, such as older adults, infants, children, and people with chronic illnesses. Also, at greater risk are those with increased exposure to the elements, such as people who work outdoors, have inadequate housing or are unhoused.
“It is likely that the HKPR District Health Unit area will see an increase in extremely hot days. It is crucial that we recognize that some people are much more likely to be negatively impacted by these conditions,” says Sue Shikaze, Health Promoter with the HKPR District Health Unit. “By understanding the risks, taking preventative measures, and working together we can create a resilient and inclusive community that can safely withstand the challenges of extreme heat events.”
The HKPR District Health Unit emphasizes that heat illnesses are preventable, and it is most important to stay cool and well-hydrated during extreme heat events. Here are some steps you can take to prepare:
Stay Cool: Avoid direct sun exposure and wear light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing. If you must do physical activity, take extra breaks to give your body time to recover from the heat or plan outdoor activities during cooler parts of the day. Take cool showers or baths until you feel refreshed. Use a fan to help you stay cool and aim the airflow in your direction. Spend a few hours in a cool place like a tree-shaded area, a community centre, or an air-conditioned spot like a shopping mall, grocery store, or public library.
Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of cool liquids, especially water, before you feel thirsty. If you are engaging in physical activity, remember to drink water before, during, and after to replace lost fluids. Include fruits and vegetables with high water content in your diet.
Stay Informed: Call your local municipal office or check out their website to identify nearby air-conditioned cooling centres where you can go during extreme heat events. Also, keep an eye on the local weather forecasts and alerts to anticipate extreme heat events 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.
And Remember: Never leave people or pets inside a parked vehicle or in direct sunlight. When the outside air temperature is 23ºC/73ºF, the inside of a vehicle can reach extremely dangerous temperatures of more than 50ºC/122ºF.
As mid-summer approaches and temperatures rise, it is essential to be prepared for extreme heat events to protect yourself and loved ones. Extreme heat can pose significant health risks, but with proper preparation and precautions, you can minimize the impact and safely enjoy the summer season.
For more information on how to prepare for extreme heat and protect your health, please visit: hkpr.on.ca/Heat
Ashley Beaulac, Communications Manager, HKPR District Health Unit, email@example.com, 1-866-888-4577 x 1212 or Sue Shikaze Health Promoter, HKPR District Health Unit, 1-866-888-4577, ext. 3249