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Protecting Yourself in Extreme Heat

Extreme heat can affect everyone’s health.

The health risks are greater for older adults, infants and young children, pregnant people, people with physical and/or mental illnesses, and people with disabilities or mobility issues.

Watch for the effects of heat illness: swelling, rash, cramps, fainting, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and the worsening of some health conditions.

Here are a few tips to remember during extreme heat:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Regardless of your activity level, you will need to increase your fluid intake. Drink 2 to 4 glasses of cool fluids each hour during heavy exercise or work in a hot environment.
    • Do not drink liquids that contain caffeine, alcohol or large amounts of sugar, as these can cause you to lose more body fluid. Avoid very cold drinks, as these may cause stomach cramps.
    • Heavy sweating removes salts and minerals from the body and must be replaced. If you must exercise, drink 2 to 4 glasses of cool, non-alcoholic fluids each hour.
  • Wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen. Wear lightweight, light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing. Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater. Reapply your sunscreen as directed.
  • Schedule outdoor activities carefully. If you must be outdoors, try to limit your outdoor activity between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Try to rest often in shady area so that your body will have a chance to recover.
    • Pace yourself. Start slow, and pick up the pace gradually.
  • Stay cool indoors. Stay indoors and, if at all possible in an air-conditioned place. If you do not have air-conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library. A few hours spent in an air-conditioned room can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat. 
    • If you don’t have air conditioning, keep shades or drapes drawn and blinds closed on the sunny side or your home. Keep lights off or turned down low and take a cool bath or shower. Avoid heavy meals and using your oven.    
  • Use a buddy system. When working in the heat, monitor the condition of your co-workers and have someone do the same for you. Heat-induced illness can cause you to become confused or lose consciousness.
    • Check regularly on infants and young children, neighbours, the elderly and those with chronic illnesses.
    • Never leave children, the elderly or pets unattended in a car, even with the windows open.