Heat-related deaths and illness are preventable and anyone can suffer heat-related illness when their bodies can't compensate and properly cool.
It’s important to be aware risk factors and what actions can be taken to prevent a heat-related illness or death.
Are you at risk?
During a heat wave, everyone is at risk, but some groups are more vulnerable than others. They include:
- Infants (under 1 year) and people 65 years of age or older;
- People with chronic medical conditions (heart disease, respiratory conditions, diabetes, etc);
- People on certain types of medications (for high blood pressure, depression, insomnia, etc);
- Homeless people;
- People with limited mobility;
- People who exercise vigorously outdoors (play sports, cyclists, gardeners);
- Outdoor workers (depending upon length or time and exertion levels); and
- People who work in places where heat is emitted through industrial processes (e.g., foundries, bakeries, kitchens).
Things you can do to protect yourself
- Be aware and check the weather forecast to be prepared and plan accordingly;
- Wear light, loose fitting clothes;
- Drink plenty of water or natural fruit juices;
- Avoid beverages such as alcohol, coffee, tea or cola;
- Eat light, cool foods, and try to avoid using the oven or other hot appliances;
- Stay in air conditioned rooms, either at home, at a friend’s place, or in public spaces such as malls, libraries, community centres or specially designated facilities;
- If you do not have air conditioning at home, open windows slightly but keep blinds closed during the day on the sunny side of your home;
- Keep indoor lights low or turned off;
- Take cool baths or showers periodically to cool down;
- If outdoors, stay in the shade and avoid strenuous physical activities. Wear sun block and a hat;
- Check up on friends, family and/or neighbours regularly who may be at high risk during a heat event;
- Do not leave people or pets in parked vehicles as they can get very hot; and
- If you do need to be outdoors try to plan your activities in early morning or early evening when the temperatures are often cooler.
References: http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/public/programs/emu/emerg_prep/et_heat.aspx (opens in a new window)