Beat the heat and stay safe

Topics: Ontario, First Aid and CPR
June 11, 2012


(Ottawa) – As the temperature is expected to soar in the Ottawa region today, the Red Cross reminds Canadians to stay cool, healthy and safe. While the summer season is a favourite time of year for many, extensive exposure to extreme heat can result in serious medical conditions such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

“First and most importantly, be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day,” says Lesley Anderson, First Aid program representative of the Canadian Red Cross in Ottawa. “A significant amount of water is lost through sweating, and that needs to be constantly replenished.”

Heat-related emergencies include heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Children, the elderly and those with certain health conditions are particularly susceptible. Check on friends and family members who may be isolated or unaware they are at risk.

The Red Cross offers the following tips to help you stay safe during hot weather.

  • Drink plenty of cool fluids, but avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Avoid being outdoors during the middle of the day, when the sun is at its strongest.
  • Work and exercise in brief periods. Take frequent breaks in a cool or shaded area.
  • Dress in light, loose clothing. Wear a hat and sunglasses. 
  • Wear sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF) to protect your skin from sunburn.

Symptoms of heat cramps typically include muscle contractions, usually in the legs or abdomen. Heat exhaustion symptoms include moist, red or pale skin, nausea, and dizziness, while symptoms of heat stroke are more severe - red, hot and dry skin; irritable, bizarre or aggressive behaviour; progressive loss of consciousness; rapid, weak pulse becoming irregular; and rapid, shallow breathing and seizures.

Anyone demonstrating signs of heat-related emergencies should be moved to a cool location and given cool water to sip and to apply to the skin. Call 9-1-1 for anyone showing significant signs of distress, losing consciousness or whose symptoms are becoming more severe.

“Heat-related emergencies are progressive in nature and without proper treatment, a person’s condition can rapidly worsen,” says Marentette. “Provide immediate care to prevent the illness from becoming more severe.”

The Canadian Red Cross is a leading provider of first aid and CPR programs and has been offering first aid and CPR training to Canadians for over 50 years. For more information or to find a course near you, visit

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