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Heat related illness

Extreme heat in summer can impact your health in many different ways.

Fortunately heat-related illnesses can be prevented. Heat-related illness occurs when your body is unable to cool itself down and the effects of heat are made worse if you do not drink enough fluids and stay hydrated.

The health impacts related to heat vary and include weakness, muscle cramps, dehydration, exhaustion, and heat stroke (sunstroke).

Those most at risk for heat-related illnesses are:

  • Infants and young children
  • Elderly
  • People with chronic heart and lung problems and people on some medications
  • Healthy individuals who engage in strenuous physical activity/work in the heat.

Check your local weather forecasts and watch for weather warnings and alerts so you can be prepared

  • Plan ahead
    • Stay indoors and minimize your heat and sun exposure between the hours of 11am and 4pm.
    • Keep your house cool and if you don’t have air-conditioning at home – consider going to a public place that is air-conditioned.
    • Think about your clothing - wear light coloured fabrics and a wide brimmed hat.
    • Avoid sunburns and protect your eyes - wear sunscreens and sunglasses sunscreen to limit ultra-violet (UV) ray exposure.
    • Drink extra water.
  • If you are going to be outside:
    • Limit daytime outdoor activity to early morning and late afternoon (remember that this is the time that mosquitoes are biting and remember to take precautions to prevent West Nile virus infection by using an insect repellant).
    • Increase your fluid intake and drink fluids before you feel thirsty. This is especially important if you are exercising or working in the heat.
    • Use an umbrella.
    • Plan regular breaks in the shade.
  • Check on any friends, families, neighbours, and community members who are at increased risk or who are unable to leave their homes.
  • Know the early signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses
    • Symptoms of mild heat exhaustion can include fatigue, weakness, headache, dizziness, nausea, and pale, cool, moist skin.
  • If you are experiencing early symptoms of heat-related illness – take action and move to a cooler environment and drink fluids. If you are concerned or your symptoms are worsening – contact a health care professional.

Additional information about heat-related illness is available at: 

1. It's way too hot! Protect Yourself from Extreme Heat (Health Canada)

2. Extreme Heat Events (Health Canada - It’s Your Health)

3. SunSense Guidelines (Canadian Cancer Society)

4. Acute Care During Extreme Heat - Recommendations and Information for Health Care Workers (Health Canada)

5. Hot Environments - Health Effects (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety)

6. Heat Emergencies – The American Red Cross  

7. Preparing for a heat wave - The Canadian Red Cross 

8. Take Precautions  

9. A tool to Stay Cool 

10. For people working in the heat

11. Extreme Heat and Human Health (Saskatchewan Health)

12. Heat and Humidity (Environment Canada)