Avoid Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion
Heat kills by pushing the human body beyond its limits. In extreme heat and high humidity, evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature.
Hot weather is rarely unwelcome in the Lower Mainland, but, with a changing climate long stretches of unusually hot weather can pose a risk to a certain percentage of the population. Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are two common conditions that can present themselves, and even heat-related deaths are possible during periods of extreme heat. Review our Heatwave Safety Checklist.
How to Prepare
- Review Before an Emergency for general information on how to prepare.
- Build or restock your Emergency Preparedness Kit.
- Consider purchasing or servicing air-conditioners.
- Install temporary window reflectors.
- Provide window coverings for windows that receive direct sunlight.
- Weather strip doors and sills to keep cool air in.
- Listen to local weather forecasts and stay aware of upcoming temperature changes.
- Know those in your neighbourhood who are elderly, young, sick or overweight. They are more likely to become victims of excessive heat and may need help.
- Visit Health Canada or Fraser Health for more information on health safety.
- Get trained in first aid to learn how to treat heat-related emergencies.
- Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify an extreme heat hazard.
During Extreme Heat
- Never leave children or pets unattended in a vehicle as temperatures can rise higher than 50 degrees Celsius.
- Limit the amount of time outdoors between 11:00 am and 4:00 pm when the heat and sun are most intense. When outside, remain in the shade and use sunscreen with SPF 30 or more to avoid direct prolonged exposure to the sun.
- Hot air rises, so higher levels collect more heat. Stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine if air conditioning is not available.
- Take advantage of air-conditioned buildings such as malls, library, and community centres.
- Eat well-balanced, light and regular meals. Avoid salt if possible.
- Stay hydrated by drinking cool beverages (preferably water), even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine.
- Know where your public drinking fountains and spray parks are located
- Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.
- Dress accordingly by wearing light coloured, loose fitting clothing that covers your skin and a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to shade your face.
- Avoid demanding physical work or exercise in the heat. If you do perform tasks that are exerting, drink plenty of extra fluids and know when to take a rest.
- Keep spray bottles full of cold water close by for a quick cool down.
- Keep your home cool by closing shades during the day, open windows at night and use an air conditioner if you have one.
After Extreme Heat
- Check in on others, especially those that suffer from heart, lung and kidney conditions. Also pay special attention to seniors, infants and pets as they may be at an increased risk of heat related illness.
- If you find anyone suffering from heat-related illness, move them to a shady location and call for medical assistance if required.
- Signs of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea; dizziness; weakness; and exhaustion.
- Signs of heat stroke include hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting; and high body temperature.
- Move the person to a cooler place. Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloth or a towel to the skin. Fan the person. If the person is conscious, give small amounts of cool water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Watch for changes in condition.
- If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.