Health Unit issues extended heat warning as temperatures to hit 30’s

The sun shines through trees in this summer of 2017 image. Nation Valley News file photo

EASTERN ONTARIO — The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has issued an extended heat warning, advising residents of the five Eastern Counties to take measures to protect their health in light of the forecasted heatwave that’s supposed to arrive Saturday.

Temperatures are forecasted to soar into the mid- to high 30s Celsius on the weekend, possibly staying that hot through the week, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada, which describes the incoming “extreme heat event” as the most significant of the past few years. Humidex readings will make it feel like the mercury has risen into the 40’s and temperatures won’t dip low enough at night to provide much relief.

The Health Unit notes that everyone is at risk during a heatwave — but health risks are greater for older adults, infants and young children, people
with chronic illnesses, people who work in the heat, people who exercise in the heat, homeless people and low-income earners.

Heat illnesses are preventable, it notes and advises the following tips to reduce the risk of a heat illness.

•  Drink plenty of cool liquids, especially water, before you feel thirsty to decrease your risk of dehydration. Thirst is not a good indicator of dehydration.

• Reschedule or plan outdoor activities during cooler parts of the day.

• Wear loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing made of breathable fabric. Dress babies and young children very lightly
and do not bundle them in blankets or heavy clothing.

• Never leave people or pets in your care inside a parked vehicle or in direct sunlight.

• 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 a public building, shopping mall, grocery store, place of worship or public library.

• Take cool showers or baths until you feel refreshed.

• Prepare meals that don’t need to be cooked in your oven.

• Block sun out by closing awnings, curtains or blinds during the day.

• Avoid sun exposure. Shade yourself by wearing a wide-brimmed, breathable hat or using an umbrella.

• Limit your physical activity.

• Be aware that children are unable to perspire as much as adults and are more prone to heat stress than adults.

• Ask your health care provider or pharmacist if the medications you are taking or any health condition you may have increase your health risk in the heat and follow their recommendations.

Heat illnesses include heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat fainting, heat edema (swelling of hands, feet and ankles), heat rash and heat cramps (muscle cramps). Watch for symptoms of heat illness, which include: dizziness or fainting, nausea or vomiting, headache, rapid breathing and heartbeat, extreme thirst, and decreased urination with unusually dark yellow urine. If you experience any of these symptoms during extreme heat, immediately move to a cool place and drink liquids. Water is best.

Heat stroke is a medical emergency. Call 911 immediately if you are caring for someone who has a high body temperature and is either unconscious, confused or has stopped sweating. While waiting for help, cool the person right away by: moving them to a cool place if you can, applying cold water to large areas of the skin or clothing, and fanning the person as much as possible.

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit says it urges everyone to stay alert and take such precautions as frequently visiting neighbours, friends and older family members — especially those who are chronically ill — to make sure that they are cool and hydrated.

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