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Hot Weather Safety Guidelines: Agencies Servicing Elderly/Persons with Disabilities

The Haldimand Norfolk Health Unit recommends the following steps to be taken to prevent heat related illness:

During an Extreme Heat Alert


Follow Heat Alert Guidelines AND

  • Check rooms to ensure that air-conditioning is in good working order and operating effectively in all rooms. Keep an air-conditioned common room available for residents to visit.
  • Check on all residents every one to two hours.

During a Heat Alert

Follow the General Guidelines AND

  • Activate policies and plans to deal with extreme temperatures (Ministry of Health and Long Term Care Hot/Cold Weather protocols).
  • Take immediate action if you find anyone exhibiting signs of heat illness – follow treatment guidelines on reverse or call 911 for anyone who exhibits signs of increased confusion and/or unresponsiveness.
  • Consider suspending all outdoor activity. If residents must be outdoors, limit time spent outdoors and ensure that staff is present.
  • Provide a cool area in the building such as a common room for residents to visit.
  • Ensure that residents drink lots of plain water (the liquid of choice), or diluted juice.
  • Check residents frequently, especially those who are physically or mentally challenged or on medications.

General Recommendations

  1. Establish a policy and plan to deal with extreme temperatures (Ministry of Health and Long Term Care Hot/Cold Weather protocols).
  2. Ensure that staff educate elderly persons and their caregivers about how to protect their health during extreme temperatures.
  3. Keep elderly persons cool and if at all possible, in an air-conditioned place. Maintain a comfortable indoor environment (within licensed facilities an emergency alert situation exists when temperature inside the building is 32 degrees Celsius or higher).
  4. Limit time outdoors between 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. when temperatures and UV radiation are most intense. Some medical conditions may increase sensitivity to the heat.
  5. Ensure heat and sun safety are integral parts of regular outdoor day programming. Wear UV protective sunglasses, wide-brimmed hat, and loose-fitting long shirts and pants.
  6. Advise the elderly and persons with disabilities who live independently that electric fans should be used with caution. Use only if they bring in cool air from outside. Do not use if they only circulate hot air. Instead take cool showers or baths.
  7. Ensure elderly/persons with disabilities are well hydrated. Plain water is the liquid of choice, or diluted fruit juice is okay.
  8. Check regularly on the elderly to be sure they stay cool and well hydrated.
  9. Staff should role model heat sun safety behaviours.
  10. Staff should be aware of signs and symptoms of heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Follow first aid procedures promptly.
  11. Apply sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) 20-30 minutes before going outside to ensure absorption.
  12. When using DEET insect repellent apply 20-30 minutes after the sunscreen has been applied.

Adapted with permission from Peel Public Health