Heat Related Illnesses
Heat illnesses can affect you quickly and are mainly caused by over-exposure to heat or over-exertion in the heat.
Know Your Risk
Heat illnesses include:
- Heat exhaustion
- Heat fainting
- Heat edema (swelling of hands, feet and ankles)
- Heat rash
- Heat cramps (muscle cramps)
If heat exposure is not controlled, the effects can lead to long-term health problems and even death.
Watch for symptoms of Heat Illness
If you have any of these symptoms move to a cool place and drink plenty of water:
- Dizziness or fainting Nausea or vomiting
- Rapid breathing and heartbeat
- Extreme thirst (dry mouth and or sticky saliva)
- Muscle Cramps
- Decreased urination with unusually dark yellow urine
Who’s at Risk?
Extreme heat can create trouble for everyone but some people can experience more problems.
Those most vulnerable to heat health effects include:
- Older adults
- Infants and young children
- People with chronic illnesses (breathing difficulties, heart conditions)
- People with psychiatric illnesses
- People who work in the heat
- People who exercise in the heat
- Homeless people and low-income earners
What Can You Do?
You need to take steps to protect yourself and others who might have problems because of the heat.
Extremely hot weather and humidity can be very dangerous.
- When a heat alert is called you need to drink lots of water,
spend less time doing things outside and stay inside or
go to place that has air conditioning to stay cool.
- Stay informed about local weather so you know when to take extra care
- Drink plenty of water, carry water with you and drink often, even if you don’t feel thirsty
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which dehydrate the body
- 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 shopping mall or public library.
- Dress for the heat, wear a hat and lightweight, loose fitting, light coloured clothing when outdoors
- Take a cool bath or shower
- Limit outdoor activities to the coolest part of the day
- Visit family members and neighbours or call someone who could be at risk. Pay attention to how they feel and watch for symptoms of heat illness.
- If you take medications, or have a health condition ask your doctor or pharmacists if it increases your health risk in the heat and follow their recommendations.
- Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles
- If you feel ill, faint, have difficulty breathing or feel disoriented, visit your doctor or nearest hospital right away. In an emergency call 911.
- Checkout Climate Change and Health - Health Canada for more information