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Handle the long-awaited heat safely, Health Unit cautions

SIMCOE, ON, May 31, 2011 – Many people have been anxiously awaiting some warm, rain-free days this spring, but the hot and muggy weather we are currently expecting may be not be exactly what they were hoping for. With temperatures in the high 20s and Humidex values reaching the high 30s expected over the next few days, the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is reminding people that when the thermometer soars they need to take extra precautions to avoid heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

“It’s easy to get excited about our first stretch of sunny days in a while, but the effects of heat and humidity can sneak up on people and pose serious health concerns,” said Josh Daley, Health Promoter with the Health Unit’s Healthy Environment Team. “People need to drink plenty of water, seek shade, and limit their time outdoors during the peak temperature hours of the day.”

Hot and humid weather also tends to increase smog levels. Paying attention to weather broadcasts and adjusting your outdoor activity level to the weather and smog level will help you beat the heat. The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit also offers these other tips to avoid heat-related illness:

Drink plenty of water and natural juices throughout the day, even if you don’t feel very thirsty. Remember to take sips often and not to guzzle your drink.
Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages, coffee and cola.
Stay indoors in an air-conditioned place when possible, either at home, or a mall, or a public library, and plan any necessary outdoor activities in early morning or evening.
Wear a wide-brimmed hat outdoors.
Keep window shades or drapes drawn and blinds closed on the sunny side of your home.
Keep electric lights off or turned down low.
Take a cool bath or shower periodically or cool down with cool, wet towels.
Wear loose fitting, light clothing.
Avoid eating heavy meals and using your oven.
Avoid intense or moderately intense physical activity outdoors.
Never leave a child or pet in a parked car or sleeping outside in direct sunlight.
Use fans to draw cool air at night, but do not rely on a fan as a primary cooling device during extended periods of excessive heat.
Closely monitor children, the elderly, outdoor workers and others who are at a higher risk of heat-related illness.
Consult your doctor or pharmacist regarding the side effects of your medications.
If you experience any of the following symptoms of heat illness, seek help from a friend, relative or a doctor:

Rapid breathing
Weakness or fainting
More tiredness than usual
Headache
Confusion
Friends and relatives can help someone with heat illness by doing the following:

Call for help.
Move the person to a cooler location.
Remove excess clothing from the person.
Cool the person with lukewarm water, by sponging or bathing.
Give the person sips of cool water if they are not nauseated or vomiting. Do not give ice cold water.
More information on heat-related illnesses is available on www.hnhu.org.

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Media contact:
Josh Daley
Health Promoter, Healthy Environment Team
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
Ext. 3256 at either 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623

[email protected]