Environment Canada has issued a heat warning for the Durham Region area for conditions expected to begin June 29. A heat warning occurs when the forecast conditions include a daytime high of at least 31°C and overnight temperatures of 20°C or greater, or with Humidex values of at least 40 for two or more days.
The Health Department is advising area residents to take precautions to prevent heat-related illness during the upcoming heat warning. While extreme heat can put everyone at risk from heat illnesses, health risks are greatest for older adults, infants and young children, people with chronic illnesses such as breathing difficulties, heart conditions or psychiatric illnesses, people who work or who exercise in the heat, homeless people and low-income earners. Those who take medication or have a health condition should ask their doctor or pharmacist if these medications can increase their health risk in the heat and follow the appropriate recommendations.
Heat illnesses are preventable; however, these illnesses can lead to long-term health problems and even death. If any symptoms of heat illness are present, such as dizziness or fainting, nausea or vomiting, headache, rapid breathing and heartbeat, or extreme thirst, immediately move to a cool place and drink liquids, especially water.
The most dangerous heat illness is heat stroke with symptoms that include complete or partial loss of consciousness, or confusion and high body temperature. If caring for someone with these symptoms, call 911 immediately. While waiting for help, cool the person right away by moving them to a cool place, applying cold water to large areas of the skin or clothing, fanning the person as much as possible.
Everyone is encouraged to stay alert and take precautions. Remember to frequently visit neighbours, friends and older family members, especially those who are chronically ill, to ensure that they are cool and hydrated.
Residents are encouraged to take the following precautions to beat the heat and stay cool:
• Drink plenty of cool liquids, especially water, before feeling thirsty.
• Wear loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing made of breathable fabric.
• Take cool showers or baths until you feel refreshed.
• Take a break from the heat by spending a few hours in a cool place.
• Block out the sun by opening awnings, and closing curtains or blinds during the day.
• Avoid sun exposure. Shade yourself by wearing a wide-brimmed, breathable hat or using an umbrella.
• Reschedule or plan outdoor activities during cooler parts of the day.
• Never leave people or pets in your care inside a parked vehicle or in direct sunlight.
For news and updates from Environment Canada, visit weather.gc.ca/warnings/report_e.html?on11. For more information about Durham Region Heat Warning and Information Systems (HWIS), or for additional tips on how to stay safe and what to do during extreme heat, please visit durham.ca/heat, or contact the Environmental Help Line at 1-888-777-9613 or 905-723-3818.