The Medical Officer of Health for the Brant County Health Unit calls a Heat Warning when Environment and Climate Change Canada reports a temperature and humidex of more than 31o Celsius or a humidex of more than 40o Celsius.
This warning remains in effect on a daily basis until cancelled.
While everyone is at risk from extreme heat, the health risks are greater for these people:
- older adults;
- infants and young children;
- people with chronic illnesses such as breathing difficulties, heart conditions or psychiatric illnesses;
- people who work and/or exercise in the heat; and
- those without air conditioning in their homes.
If you take medication or have a health condition, ask your doctor or pharmacist if it increases your health risk in the heat and follow their recommendations.
Heat-related illnesses include heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat fainting, heat edema (swelling of hands, feet and ankles), heat rash and heat cramps. Symptoms of these illnesses may include:
- dizziness or fainting;
- nausea or vomiting;
- 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-related illnesses are preventable. To reduce your risk of heat-related illness, here are a few things you can do:
- Avoid the sun.
- Drink lots of cool liquids, especially water before you feel thirsty. Thirst is not a reliable measure of dehydration.
- Reschedule or plan outdoor activities during cooler parts of the day.
- Wear loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing made of breathable fabric.
- Never leave people or pets in your care inside a parked vehicle or in direct sunlight.
- Take a break from the heat in cool places, including a tree-shaded area or air-conditioned building so long as you ensure you are maintaining physical distancing from others.
- Take cool showers or baths.
- Prepare meals that don’t need to be cooked in an oven.
- Block sun out by closing curtains or blinds during the day.
- Shade yourself by wearing a wide-brimmed, breathable hat or using an umbrella.
- Stay hydrated, drink plenty of water and avoid alcoholic beverages and caffeine.
- Choose cool water and coconut water and the occasional fizzy drink.
- Eat high water content foods like watermelon, grapes, cucumber and tomatoes.
- Exercise outdoors.
- Head out early or late in the day. Choose larger green spaces with shade.
- Turn off or unplug as many appliances as possible.
- Fix meals with little or no cooking.
- Unplug appliances when not in use to reduce heat created.
- Create a cold water bottle.
- Fill a hot water bottle with cold water and freeze then place near your feet.
- Keep your hot/cold therapy pack in the freezer.
- Use a fan wisely.
- Fans can just circulate hot humid air, so point it out a window to push the hot air out or place a shallow bowl of ice in front of the fan to blow cooler air toward you.
- If sleeping is unbearable, try a slightly damp towel in bed.
- Use a cool/cold foot bath to cool you down.
- Frequently connect with vulnerable neighbours, friends, and older family members, especially those who are chronically ill, to make sure they are cool and hydrated. Use the Health Checks During Extreme Heat Events guide for doing in-person or remote health checks.
- Check with the City of Brantford or the County of Brant for cooling centre information and locations.
Heat stroke is a medical emergency.
Call 911 immediately if you are caring for someone who has a high body temperature and is unconscious, confused or has stopped sweating.
While waiting for medical help to arrive, if you can, help cool the person by:
- moving them to a cool place;
- applying cold water to large areas of the skin or clothing; and
- fanning the person as much as possible