Heat affects the body’s ability to regulate its temperature. The body tries to keep a consistent temperature (about 37 C or 98.6 F) but prolonged exposure to heat can result in conditions such as dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Death can occur if the body’s temperature climbs too high.
High humidity reduces the body’s ability to cope with hot temperatures because less heat can be lost by perspiration. People with chronic health conditions, older adults, those taking certain medications or people performing strenuous activity, homeless people, infants and young children are at increased risk for heat illness.
Be prepared to cope with the heat and remember to check the weather forecast.
Heat illnesses can be prevented by:
- drinking plenty of water or other liquids before feeling thirsty;
- avoiding too much sun and preventing sunburn;
- planning energetic outdoor activities for cooler parts of the day;
- finding a cool place to go;
- taking a cool bath or shower;
- checking on family members, neighbours and friends when it gets hot, especially older adults and people with chronic conditions;
- not leaving dependents or pets alone in closed vehicles or direct sunlight; and
- limiting alcohol consumption.
Symptoms of overexposure to sun and heat can include headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness or tiredness, confusion, rapid breathing and rapid pulse.
If any of these symptoms are associated with heat or sun exposure, move to a cool or shaded place immediately, lie down, sip water and cool down by sponging or splashing water on yourself. Emergency medical attention may be required depending on the severity and duration of symptoms. For more information on heat, visit: www.gov.mb.ca/health/publichealth/environmentalhealth/heat.html.
Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun and other sources, such as tanning beds can be a health risk. Overexposure to UV rays can lead to sunburns, premature skin aging, other skin changes and skin cancer. Sunburn also reduces the ability to cope with heat. Eye conditions such as cataracts can also result from UV exposure.
We can protect ourselves from exposure to UV rays by:
- wearing a broad-brimmed hat and appropriate clothing to reduce sun exposure, especially between the hours of 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.;
- applying sunscreen with a minimum SPF 15 to all exposed skin, according to the instructions on the label;
- reapplying sunscreen at regular intervals, especially if in the water or sweating;
- avoid using sunscreen on babies but make sure they are covered up or kept in the shade;
- wearing sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection; and
- avoiding the use of artificial UV tanning equipment.
The daily UV index forecast can help you decide how much protection is needed when planning outdoor activities. For more information, visit: www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/sun-sol/protect-protegez/index-uv-indice-eng.php.