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Preventing the effects of heat

In Canada, heat warnings are issued by Environment Canada when one of the following conditions is expected to last for at least one hour:

  • a temperature of 30 °C or higher and a humidex of 40 or more;
  • a temperature of 40 °C or higher.

The definition of extreme heat varies by region. On average, the temperature must be between 31 ºC and 33 ºC in the daytime and between 16 ºC and 20 ºC at night for three consecutive days.

Precautions

For adults

During a heat wave, your health can deteriorate rapidly. You can take certain precautions to make yourself more comfortable and reduce the health risks for you and your loved ones.

  • Make sure you drink enough fluids:
    • drink a lot of water. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty. Follow your doctor’s instructions for the amount of liquid to drink, where applicable.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages, because alcohol can make dehydration worse.
  • Cool off often:
    • take a cool shower or bath as often as necessary. Take a dip in a swimming pool, if possible;
    • cool your skin with a wet towel several times a day. For example, place a cool wet towel on your face, arms and neck, and spray cold water over your face;
    • spend a few hours a day in an air-conditioned place or a cooler place in your home. If air-conditioned public places, public pools, splash pads, wading pools, beaches or shady parks are accessible in your area, go there to cool off for a few hours.
  • Protect yourself from heat:
    • reduce physical exertion;
    • wear lightweight, light-coloured and loose-fitting clothing. Wear a wide-brimmed breathable hat;
    • schedule your physical activities during the cooler parts of the day (such as before 11 a.m. and after 6 p.m.).
  • Close the curtains or blinds when the sun is out. If possible, air your home at night when it is cool.
  • Minimize your use of heat-producing appliances (stove, oven, clothes dryer, television, light fixtures, etc.).
  • Stay in touch with your loved ones and do not hesitate to ask family and friends for help during periods of high heat:
    • The most vulnerable people should regularly invite people over to visit (family, neighbours, friends).
    • The loved ones of people who are elderly, frail or living alone should visit them regularly.
  • Watch for heat warnings and follow the recommendations of Environment Canada or your region’s public health authority.

For babies and children

In hot weather, babies’ and children’s health can deteriorate quickly. You can take certain precautions to make them more comfortable and reduce the health risks.

  • Make sure your children drink enough fluids:
    • Have them drink water regularly and, if possible, give them a water bottle
    • For breastfed babies, breastfeed on demand. It is completely normal for the baby to nurse more often
    • Offer formula-fed babies formula more often
    • Offer babies over six months of age small amounts of water after or between feeds
  • Cool off children often, for example:
    • have them take a lukewarm bath or shower as often as necessary;
    • wet their skin with a wet towel several times a day.
  • Protect them from the heat:
    • dress them in light clothing;
    • cover their head with a wide-brimmed hat;
    • never leave them alone in a poorly ventilated room;
    • never leave them alone in a car, even if the windows are cracked open.
  • Limit their exposure to heat:
    • limit their outdoor activities, such as endurance sports competitions;
    • plan outdoor activities before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. when the heat is less intense;
    • limit or stop physical activities for children who have an acute or chronic illness.

Last update: April 12, 2022

Notice

Information on the website in no way replaces the opinion of a health professional. If you have questions concerning your health status, consult a professional.

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