IH reminds you to be prepared for hot weather
The first high temperatures of the season can lead to some people overheating because they are not yet acclimatized to warmer weather. There are some basic steps you can take to ensure you and your family remain safe and healthy during warmer temperatures.
Additional heat information is available on the Interior Health public website. The BC Centre of Disease Control (BCCDC) also has a broad range of heat-related information on its website, including information on the different types of heat alerts, how to prepare for warmer temperatures, symptoms of heat-related illnesses, those most at risk during warmer weather, and ways to stay cool.
Preparing for hot weather:
- Identify a cooler space in your home and prepare it so you can stay there at night, if possible. You may need to change daily living arrangements.
- Find an air-conditioned spot close by where you can cool off on very hot days. Consider staying with friends or family or find places in your community to spend time such as movie theatres, libraries, community centres, or shopping malls.
- Check that you have a working fan. If you have an air conditioner, make sure it works.
• Install awnings, shutters, blinds, or curtains over your windows to keep the sun out during the day.
- Practice opening doors and windows to move cool air in at night and shutting windows during the day to prevent hot outdoor air from coming inside.
- Get a digital room thermometer to keep with you so you know when your home is getting too hot.
Who is most at risk?
It is important to monitor yourself and family members, and to consider developing a check-in system for neighbours and friends who are at higher-risk during warmer weather
The most susceptible individuals include:
- Older adults, especially those over 60;
- people who live alone;
- people with pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or respiratory disease;
- people with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, depression, or anxiety;
- people with substance use disorders;
- people with limited mobility;
- people who are marginally housed;
- people who work in hot environments;
- people who are pregnant;
- infants and young children.
- Spray your body down with water, wear a damp shirt, take a cool shower or bath, or sit with part of your body in water to cool down if you are feeling too hot.
- Drink plenty of water and other liquids to stay hydrated, even if you are not feeling thirsty
- Take it easy, especially during the hottest hours of the day.
- Stay in the shade and use a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or more.
- Signs of overheating include feeling unwell, headache, and dizziness. Take immediate action to cool down if you are overheating.
- It is important to remember that overheating can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
- Signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, severe headache, muscle cramps, extreme thirst, and dark urine. If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should seek a cooler environment, drink plenty of water, rest, and use water to cool your body.
- Heat stroke is a medical emergency
In the event of a medical emergency, British Columbians are advised to call 9-1-1. However, it is also important to use 9-1-1 responsibly to avoid overwhelming the system.
BC Emergency Health Services in partnership with ECOMM is reminding British Columbians to only dial 9-1-1 for serious or life-threatening injuries
When to call 9-1-1:
- In general: when there is chest pain, difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, severe burns, choking, convulsions that are not stopping, a drowning, a severe allergic reaction, a head injury, signs of a stroke, a major trauma.
- More specifically related to hot weather: severe headache, confusion, unsteadiness, loss of thirst, nausea/vomiting, and dark urine or no urine are signs of dangerous heat-related illness.
If you have a less urgent health issue:
You can call 8-1-1 and get connected with a nurse at HealthLinkBC. Or, if you can do it safely, you could go to an urgent care centre or clinic.
That way, our highly trained emergency medical dispatch staff and paramedics will be available for people who need their services the most.
There are also online tools at healthlinkbc.ca including a “Check Your Symptoms” tool.
While this bulletin is about the beginning of hot summer weather, additional information on preparing for extreme heat events can also be found in BC’s Extreme Heat Preparedness Guide.
e-KNOW file photo