Protect Yourself During Very Hot Weather
Hot temperatures can be dangerous, especially for some people who are at higher risk of heat-related illnesses. Heat illnesses can affect you quickly and are mainly caused by over-exposure to heat or over-exertion in the heat. Fortunately, heat-related illnesses can be prevented by taking measures to protect yourself before and during periods of very hot weather.
PREPARE FOR THE HEAT
Check local weather forecasts and alerts regularly so you know when to take extra care.
If you have an air conditioner, make sure it works properly before the hot weather starts. Otherwise, find an air-conditioned spot close by where you can cool off for a few hours during very hot days.
If you’re taking medication or have a health condition, ask your doctor or pharmacist if it increases your health risk in the heat and follow their recommendations.
Drink plenty of cool liquids, especially water, before you feel thirsty to decrease your risk of dehydration. Thirst is not a good indicator of dehydration.
It’s important to know that children may not feel thirsty but will still need to drink regularly.
Remind yourself to drink water by leaving a glass by the sink.
Flavoring water with natural fruit juice may make it more appealing.
DRESS FOR THE WEATHER
Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing made from breathable fabric.
When outdoors, wear a wide-brimmed hat made of breathable fabric.
Dress young children and babies very lightly, and don’t bundle them in blankets or heavy clothing.
KEEP YOUR HOME COOL
If you have an air conditioner with a thermostat, keep it set to the highest setting that is comfortable (somewhere between 22°C/72°F and 26°C/79°F), which will reduce your energy costs and provide you with needed relief.
Make meals that don’t use an oven, especially if you don’t have air conditioning.
Keep blinds or drapes closed to block out the sun during the day.
Unplug electronics and turn off lights when not in use.
If safe, open your windows at night to let cooler air into your home.
IF YOUR HOME IS EXTREMELY HOT:
Take a break from the heat by spending a few hours in a cool place. It could be a tree-shaded area, swimming facility, or an air-conditioned spot such as a shopping mall, grocery store, place of worship, or public library.
Take cool showers or baths or use cool wet towels to cool down.
Use a fan to help you stay cool and aim the airflow in your direction.
Never leave a person or pet inside a parked car or in the direct sunlight.
Be aware that children are unable to perspire as much as adults and therefore are more prone to heat illness than adults.
Reschedule or plan outdoor activities during cooler parts of the day.
If you have to be outdoors, avoid sun exposure. Shade yourself by wearing a wide-brimmed, breathable hat, using an umbrella or seeking out shady areas (tree-shaded areas can be as much as 5°C/9°F cooler than the surrounding area)
Avoid vigorous exercise in the heat (this includes children as well). If you have a young child or a child with a chronic respiratory condition such as asthma, don’t allow them to take part in sporting events or exercise during very high heat, especially when there’s a heat warning in effect.
When swimming in a pool or at a beach, be aware that the high humidity and sun rays are still a potential threat. Proper sunscreen protection and frequent rests in the shade are still necessary.
When in the sun, keep track of how long you or your child has been outside. Learn to recognize the signs of heat illness right away so you or your child can get shelter to avoid further heat injury. Also, use common sense and remove yourself or your child from the sun/heat as frequently as you think is necessary. Don’t overdo it.
Use a sunscreen that is SPF 15 or higher and follow the manufacturer’s directions. Remember, sunscreen will protect against the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays but not from the heat.
If you’re in an area where mosquitoes are active, protect yourself with insect repellent and follow the manufacturer’s directions.
Sunscreen and insect repellents can be safely used together. Apply the sunscreen first, then the insect repellent.
AIR QUALITY DURING VERY HOT WEATHER
Pollution levels tend to be higher on hot days. Check the Air Quality Health Index for information and recommendations about the air quality in your area.
During very hot weather, exercise in an air-conditioned place, or a cooler outdoor location such as a tree-shaded area away from high traffic to avoid high levels of air pollution.
When the Air Quality Health Index indicates that poor air quality poses a very high health risk in Eastern Ontario, the EOHU will issue a Smog and Air Health Advisory in keeping with recommendations from Environment and Climate Change Canada, and the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.
During very hot weather, pay attention to how you – and those around you – feel. Call or visit at-risk family, friends, or neighbors (especially seniors living alone) to make sure they’re drinking plenty of fluids and keeping cool.