Let’s face it, a changing climate can make heat waves longer and more intense. And extreme heat can be dangerous for everyone.
Heat illnesses such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke can rapidly evolve into life-threatening emergencies.
Most at-risk are people with breathing difficulties like asthma, or existing health conditions like kidney or heart issues, as well as Parkinson’s disease.
Really hot temperatures are also dangerous for older adults, young children and pregnant people. If you have a chronic condition or take medication, you should speak with a health-care provider about your risks in the heat.
Even if you’re fit and healthy, heat can be dangerous for anyone exercising or doing physical activity inside or out. Hot temperatures make it more difficult for our bodies to sweat and cool off. Physical activity can raise your body temperature faster, leading to problems when the heat makes it hard to cool down.
People who live alone or are socially isolated are also at a greater risk of heat related illness because early signs of heat illness can rapidly evolve into life-threatening emergencies, and there may not be anyone around them to notice that they may need help. People with pre-existing mental illnesses may also be more at risk to heat.
Whether you’re at high risk or not, it’s a good idea to arrange regular check-ins with family, friends and neighbours during a heat wave to make sure everyone is okay. Offer to take them to a cool place and keep an eye out for any signs of illness like confusion, dizziness or swelling. If severe heat-related illness is suspected, with symptoms such as fainting, disorientation, vomiting or having difficulty speaking, call 911 immediately.
Find more information about how to stay safe in extreme heat at canada.ca/health