SIMCOE MUSKOKA DISTRICT HEALTH UNIT
Summer is almost here and as outdoor temperatures rise it can be difficult to stay cool.
During periods of extreme heat, everyone is at risk of heat-related illness. Infants, older adults, and people with pre-existing health conditions are more vulnerable to harm from overheating. You can protect yourself from extreme heat in the following ways.
When it is hot outside, pay close attention to how you and those around you feel. Consider developing a check-in system for neighbours, family and friends who are at higher risk during warmer weather. Learn the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses and what to do if they occur. Remember, heat stroke is a medical emergency. If you are caring for someone who has a high body temperature and is either unconscious, confused, or has stopped sweating, call 911 immediately.
Indoor temperatures can rise to unsafe levels. To help reduce the heat entering your home, close blinds or curtains during the day and if possible, open doors and windows when it is cooler outside. During periods of extreme heat, fans will not prevent heat-related illness, so other steps need to be taken such as taking cool baths or showers and going to a cooler, air-conditioned place such as a cooling centre or library, or outdoor spaces with shaded areas. If you have air conditioning, turn it on. Even on low it can help you stay safe.
Take it easy, especially during the hottest hours of the day as overexertion increases the risk of heat exhaustion, dehydration or heat stroke. High humidity can increase air pollution levels, making air quality worse during periods of extreme heat. When outside, stay in the shade, take frequent breaks, and make sure you apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or more (and reapply often), wear a broad-brimmed hat, sunglasses and lightweight, light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing.
Staying hydrated is another important way to keep cool. Drink plenty of water and avoid beverages containing alcohol, caffeine, or large amounts of sugar. You don’t need to wait until you feel thirsty as that is a sign that your body is already becoming dehydrated. If you take medication or have a health condition, ask your health-care provider if it increases your risks from extreme heat or dehydration.
For more information about extreme heat, visit the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit website at smdhu.org/heat or call Health Connection weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520.