GBPH advises people to protect against heat-related illnesses

GREY BRUCE - With the Grey-Bruce area expected to experience a prolonged heat event for much of this week, Grey Bruce Public Health is urging residents and visitors to take steps to safeguard their health and prevent potential heat-related illnesses.

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) issued a Heat Warning on Monday, June 17 for all of Grey-Bruce.

The federal agency says daytime temperatures in the area are forecasted to reach 30 to 35°C through much of the week, with humidex values of 40 to 45°C anticipated. Overnight temperatures are expected to remain around 20 to 23°C with humidex values of 26 to 30°C.

Heat warnings are issued by ECCC when high temperatures or humidity conditions reach criteria established by the federal agency and provincial health authorities, and are expected to pose an elevated risk of heat-related illnesses.

Anyone can develop a heat-related illness, which can include heat stroke, heat exhaustion, or heat cramps, during periods of extreme heat. Heat illnesses can develop quickly and can lead to long-term health problems and even death.

Those at risk

People at higher risk include older adults; infants and young children; people with chronic illnesses, such as those impacting breathing or heart conditions; people who are pregnant; people experiencing homelessness or who live in substandard housing; people with disabilities or who are on certain medications; newcomers to Canada; and people who work, exercise, or play sports in the heat.

To stay safe during extreme heat events, residents should avoid sun exposure, limit physical activity, and drink plenty of cool liquids. Water is best.

Other ways to reduce the risk of developing a heat-related illness include:

- Wearing loose-fitting, light-colored clothing made of breathable fabric.

- Engaging in outdoor activities during cooler parts of the day.

- Taking a break from the heat by spending a few hours in a cool place, such as a cooling centre, air-conditioned building, or shaded area.

- Taking cool showers or baths.

- Blocking out the sun while indoors by closing awnings, curtains, or blinds.Shading yourself by wearing a wide-brimmed, breathable hat or using an umbrella.

- Asking your health care provider or pharmacist if the medications you are taking or any health condition you may have increases your health risk in the heat and follow their recommendations.

Heat stroke is a medical emergency. Symptoms can include a high body temperature, confusion, loss of consciousness, a headache, dizziness, and nausea. If someone is experiencing heat stroke, call 911 immediately and move the person to a cool place, if possible.

GBPH is asking residents to check on loved ones and vulnerable community members during periods of extreme heat to ensure they’re staying cool and hydrated.

Public Health has created an Extreme Weather webpage with additional information on the potential health impacts of extreme heat, how to respond to and protect against heat-related illnesses, and available resources, including public cooling centres in Grey-Bruce.

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times