The Regional Municipality Of York

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Extreme Heat

Extreme heat can be a serious health threat. When temperatures rise be sure to keep cool!


Check Environment Canada’s website for information on your local forecast and weather alerts.

York Region Public Health notifies the public and its partners when hot and humid weather could negatively affect health. See below for information about the symptoms of heat-related illnesses and ways to stay safe in the heat.

High temperatures, high humidity, lack of shade and minimal air movement – both indoors and outdoors – can put your health at risk, causing heat-related illnesses. These illnesses range from minor heat rashes and muscle cramps, to hot weather emergencies like heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

Remember, heat-related illnesses are preventable.

Did you know? It is expected that the number and intensity of extreme heat days will increase as a result of climate change.

Heat Exhaustion Symptoms and Treatment

Heat exhaustion occurs when the body loses large amounts of water and salt through sweat. This can happen during hot temperatures when a person does not drink enough liquids. Heat exhaustion can result in heat stroke if left untreated.

Symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Weak pulse
  • Heavy sweating
  • Pale skin
  • Weakness/exhaustion
  • Muscle cramps

Treatment:

  • Move the person to a cooler location
  • Encourage the person to cool down by sponging with cool (not cold) water, swimming or taking a shower or bath
  • Provide sips of cool water
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Heat Stroke Symptoms and Treatment

Heat stroke occurs when the body's temperature rises rapidly (to 40°C/104°F or above) and the body is unable to cool down. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided.

Symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Strong pulse
  • Red, hot and dry skin (no sweating)
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness

Treatment:

  • Dial 911, this is a medical emergency
  • While waiting for medical assistance, help the person to cool down by sponging with cool (not cold) water
  • Do not give the person any fluids as this may cause them to vomit or choke
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Who is at Risk?

Extreme heat affects everyone; however, some people are more at risk than others, including:

  • Infants and children
  • Seniors
  • People with chronic diseases or medical conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes
  • People taking medication for high blood pressure, depression or insomnia
  • People who exercise vigorously or work outdoors
  • People who are isolated or have limited mobility
  • People who are homeless
  • People who are overweight
  • People with mental illness, dementia or addiction

Check regularly on family, friends or neighbours who may be at higher risk for heat-related illness or do not have air conditioning.

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Beat the Heat

During extreme heat, keep cool and avoid added stress on your body. 

Plan for Summer Heat

  • Check local weather forecasts for the temperature, humidex and UV index
  • Check Environment Canada for heat warnings
  • Check on family, friends or neighbours who may be at higher risk for heat-related illnesses or do not have air conditioning
  • If you are taking medication, check with your doctor or pharmacist regarding possible side effects during extreme heat
  • Stay hydrated! Drink plenty of cool liquids, especially water, before feeling thirsty
  • Avoid drinks containing alcohol or caffeine
  • Do not leave people or pets unattended in a car

Did you know? Warmer temperatures speed up the process of smog formation. Check the Air Quality Health Index daily to learn how to protect your health from outdoor air pollution. 

Stay Cool Outdoors

  • Schedule outdoor physical activities in the morning and evening hours when it is cooler
  • Reduce activity and rest often in shaded areas
  • Wear lightweight, light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing made of breathable fabric
  • Reduce sun exposure by wearing a wide-brimmed, breathable hat or use an umbrella
  • Wear sunglasses with UV protection and sunscreen SPF 30 or higher

Stay Cool Indoors

  • Stay in cool, well-ventilated areas
  • Fans are only effective when circulating cooler air - Open a window or door if using a fan to bring in cooler air
  • Close blinds and curtains to reduce the heat coming into your home
  • Take a cool shower or bath, or wet your hands, face and the back of your neck
  • Open windows at night if the outdoor air is cooler
  • Prepare meals that don’t need to be cooked in the oven
  • If you are not in an air-conditioned environment and unable to stay cool, go to a public building such as a library, community centre, shopping mall or public pool

Visit your local municipality's website for more information on where you can stay cool in your area.

 

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York Region Public Health’s Extreme Heat Program

As part of the Extreme Heat Program, York Region Public Health notifies the public and its partners of hot and humid weather that can negatively affect health. The program was recently updated as part of a province-wide harmonization plan to ensure a more consistent approach for issuing heat warnings in Ontario.  Evidence-based triggers for York Region were developed that take into account both intensity and duration as described below:

Level

Criteria

Duration

Heat Warning

Temperatures are expected to be at least 31°C and overnight temperatures are at least 20°C
OR
Humidex is at least 40

2 days

Extended Heat Warning

Temperatures are expected to be at least 31°C and overnight temperatures are at least 20°C
OR
Humidex is at least 40

3 or more days

In the event of a heat warning or extended heat warning, York Region Public Health will issue a media release and post updates to Twitter and Facebook, advising the public to take extra precautions. York Region Public Health will also directly notify organizations and stakeholders whose clientele may be more vulnerable to extreme heat. The program runs annually from May 1 to September 30.

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