Most of us remember cold, snowy weather in stark detail so the heat of summer is often a welcome sight, a warm embrace even for us Canadians. However, too much heat can be harmful, and we need to be conscious of what to do during a heat wave, not just for ourselves but particularly for our furry friends and elderly loved ones as well.

Keep your cool in the heat with these tipsDuring our beloved hot summer months, there are plenty of activities to do to keep your cool such as swimming, boating, or perhaps just enjoying refreshing cold drinks.

But under the sun, these outdoor activities can lead to heat-related emergencies such as 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.
There are a few heat-relief activities you can do at home to help keep your cool; here are a few ideas:
  • Keep water in a spray bottle for a refreshing spritzer. Keep this in the fridge for an extra refresh.
  • Freeze water in a cup or bottle (for portability) to enjoy the melting, ice-cold water – and add some fruit to your water for some flavour!
  • Keep the room cooler by keeping the curtains drawn and using a no-bake recipe book
  • For a nice cool draft, put ice in a shallow pan in front of a fan to sit and enjoy
 If you know your region will be experiencing a heat wave, take some additional precautions to ensure your safety and the safety of others.



What to do during a heatwave:

  • Drink plenty of cool fluids – this is the most important step you can take to preventing a heat emergency.
  • Avoid being outside during the hottest part of the day.
  • Know the humidex rating – it combines the temperature and humidity to indicate how hot the weather feels to the average person.
  • Dress for the heat and for your activity level. Wear light, loose clothing to let air circulate and heat escape.
  • Always wear a hat and apply sunscreen before going outside.
  • Slow down your activities as it gets hotter. Don’t work, exercise, or play outside for an extended period of time.
  • Take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors to let your body cool off.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol because they can cause dehydration, which stops your body from controlling its temperature properly.
  • Watch for symptoms of heat illness.
    • Dizziness or fainting
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Rapid breathing and heartbeat
    • Extreme thirst
    • Decreased urination with unusually dark yellow urine
    • Changes of behaviour in children
  • If you are unclear if heat illness is occurring, call 9-1-1. 
  • If you have any symptoms of heat illness during extreme heat, move to a cool place and drink water. If symptoms don’t improve, call 9-1-1
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
  • Check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat.
 

What to do after a heatwave:

  • Open windows and blinds to allow fresh air to circulate through your home.
  • Check on vulnerable family members, friends and neighbours who may require assistance.
  • Continue to stay hydrated by drinking water.
Be fully prepared by taking a Canadian Red Cross First Aid course – to learn the signs, symptoms and treatment of heat-related illnesses, find a course near you: www.redcross.ca/firstaid.

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