Heat waves are miserable!
Even more so if you’re acclimated to a colder climate and don’t have air conditioning to escape the unbearable weather. They’re just too hot, muggy, and sticky to function normally.
Although heat waves are nothing new, they have increased in frequency and severity over recent years as a consequence of climate change. Internationally, extreme heat warnings have been abundant lately, with recent heat advisories delivered in Toronto, London, and Phoenix. With hotter and hotter summers every subsequent year, we need to start preparing for the influence that extreme heat exerts on our lives.
Extreme heat impacts our lives in various ways. It effects our transportation systems by grounding airplanes and halting trains, our food supply by wrecking crops and killing livestock, and importantly, our health.
What effects does extreme heat have on our health? From burning and irritating our skin to taking away lives, heat has a profound impact on human health if we are not careful. Some of the most significant impacts that heat has include:
- Heat Rash
- Heat Edema (swelling of hands, feet, and ankles)
- Heat Cramps
- Heat Exhaustion
- Heat Stroke
- Heat Fatalities
Those at most risk include:
- Infants and young kids.
- Older adults.
- Marginalized populations, including: the homeless, poor, and socially isolated.
- People with chronic conditions or mental illnesses.
- People with limited mobility.
- Outdoor workers.
Now that you know the health risks, here are ten tips for how you can beat the heat:
- Avoid the sun when possible.
- Drink lots of water.
- Wear sunscreen.
- Wear light coloured and breathable clothing (i.e. cotton).
- Find an air conditioned place (including public spaces).
- Keep your blinds or drapes closed when indoors.
- Turn off lights and unplug electronics.
- Optimize your fans: place them in front of a window or a bowl of ice to circulate cool air and do not use them in temperatures over 34°
- Take cool shows.
- Exercise carefully, being aware not to exert yourself in the heat.
If you experience any heat related symptoms such as dizziness, fainting, nausea, dehydration, or rapid breathing, please find a cool place to sit and drink plenty of water. If the symptoms persist, contact your health care provider and if needed, emergency services.
This summer, remember to: