Heat Waves: Before, During & After

A young boy walks through a water sprinkler

A prolonged period of heat can become dangerous for many people. The best way to protect yourself and your family in case of a heat wave is to follow these steps:

  • Stay hydrated and cool.
  • Be prepared for power outages.
  • Check with your neighbours, friends and those at risk.


  • The key to staying safe is to prepare and to have an emergency plan in place.
  • Listen to local news and weather reports for any potential heat wave warnings in your area.
    • A heat warning means a heat wave is already occurring or will occur soon in your area.
    • A heat watch means a heat wave is possible in your area. Stay alert for more information.
  • Find ways to keep cool before hot weather starts such as arranging air conditioning and fans, and keeping your home cool.
  • Learn about places you can go to get cool such as public libraries, malls, and your municipality cooling shelter. Discuss heat safety precautions with members of your household. Have a plan for wherever you spend time – home, work and school – and prepare for the possibility of power outages.
  • Get trained in first aid to learn how to treat heat-related emergencies.
  • Download the official Canadian Red Cross first aid app.
  • Ensure that your animals’ needs for water and shade are met.


  • 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 occuring, 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.


  • 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.

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