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.
- Check with the City of Brantford or the County of Brant for cooling centre information and locations, as they may have changed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
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