With the rising temperatures across Canada, government agencies have been sending out warnings to citizens about the risk of extreme heat.
This heat has largely affected the areas of Southern Ontario, Quebec and the East Coast. With 15 deaths in Quebec already this summer, now more than ever is a good time to know how to prepare yourself against the extreme heat.
Most Canadians think that extreme heat can only affect the elderly, but often it can affect people who are suffering from illnesses, and those with heart conditions. We’ve created a list of criteria to follow that you can use to prepare yourself and your loved ones for the heat of the summer.
How to prepare for the extreme heat
Preparing for a heat wave
- Find areas or ways to keep cool in your home when it’s hot out. This can be as simple as setting up your home with air conditioning or fans.
- Plan out your day, and know about places that are cool. Most public buildings, malls, and offices offer air conditioning during the day.
- 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.
- Make sure to have a plan for your pets as well as your family and make sure that their needs are met. Depending on how shaggy your pets are, they can get pretty hot on summer days.
- Get trained in first aid, so that you’re able to recognize and respond to emergencies in the heat. The Mikey Young at Heart app is a great tool on the basics of first aid, and how to use an AED, but if you want a full accreditation we recommend reaching out to your local municipality or St.John’s ambulance.
During a Heat Wave
- Drink plenty of cool fluids. It’s important to keep drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day as you want to remain hydrated throughout.
- If you can, aim to avoid being outside at the hotter portions of the day. If you can’t, make sure to take regular breaks in a shaded area.
- 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.
Symptoms to look out for:
- Dizziness or fainting
- Nausea or vomiting
- Rapid breathing and heartbeat
- Extreme thirst
- Decreased urination with unusually dark yellow urine
- Changes of behaviour in children
Things that you can do to help others
- Bring extra supplies with you that you can give away to friends or to someone in need, like a bottle of water. This is extremely helpful when you’re planning to go out for a day at the park or another public area.
- Check in on neighbours, family members, and friends who you know don’t have air conditioning, are older, or have illnesses. Bring them a care package of water, and spend time with them to make sure that they’re alright.
- Share on social media or other online platforms the location of cooldown centres, or water stations in your area.
For this list, we referenced an advisory from the Red Cross. If you need more advice on heat waves or an understanding of how to respond to different emergencies, we recommend using their site as it has many great resources.