Take precautions to avoid heat-related illnesses

Infants, elderly people, and people taking medications more vulnerable to extreme heat

Thermometer showing high temperatures

Environment Canada expects daytime high temperatures to be in the low 30°Cs over the next two days, with humidex values near the 40°Cs. We should take precautions over the next couple of days to deal with the heat, especially for those who are vulnerable to heat including infants and elderly people.

Extreme heat conditions can have a severe impact on the health of infants, elderly people, shut-ins, persons with chronic diseases, and people who are morbidly obese. Effects can include dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.

People taking medications may also be more vulnerable to extreme heat, as certain medications may interfere with the body’s cooling functions and retention of water and salt. People taking antihypertensives, antidepressants, antipsychotics and anti-Parkinson’s drugs may be more likely to experience difficulty adapting to high temperatures.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, muscle cramps, weakness, headache, fainting, fatigue, dizziness, and nausea. People experiencing these symptoms during extreme heat conditions should see health care immediately.

Most healthy people can tolerate a short period of hot and humid weather, as long as they stay cool by taking the following precautions:

  • Drink lots of water and natural fruit juices, even if you don’t feel very thirsty. Avoid alcoholic beverages, coffee, and cola.
  • Avoid going out in the blazing sun or heat when possible. If you must go outside, stay in the shade as much as possible and plan to go out early in the morning or evening when it is cooler.
  • Go to air-conditioned locations such as shopping malls, libraries, and community centres. Visit a friend if he or she has an air-conditioned home.
  • If you don’t have air conditioning, keep shades or drapes drawn and blinds closed on the sunny side of your home, but keep windows slightly open. Keep lights off or turned down low.
  • Wear loose fitting and light clothing, and a wide-brimmed hat if venturing outdoors.
  • Take a cool bath or shower periodically or use cool and wet towels.
  • Avoid heavy meals and using your oven.
  • Avoid intense or moderately intense physical activity.

Source: Peterborough County-City Health Unit.