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Heat wave can put health at risk; Health Unit warns

SIMCOE, ON, July 19, 2011 – The sight of brown lawns, the sound of air conditioners running, and the feeling of sweat starting to bead on the forehead are becoming a bit too familiar for most peoples’ liking. As we experience one of the hottest, driest Julys on record, the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is reminding people that this heat wave poses risks to more than our yards and our hydro bills.

With temperatures expected to remain in the 30s this week and forecasted Humidex values reaching as high as 46, the Health Unit is urging people to take precautions to avoid serious illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The very high UV index levels, reaching eight and above, which have been accompanying this heat also require people to take extra precautions to protect their skin from becoming sunburned.

“In addition to drinking plenty of water, and wearing loose fitting and light clothing, people should try to stay indoors in an air-conditioned place when possible, either at home, or a mall, or a public library,” said Josh Daley, Health Promoter with the Health Unit’s Healthy Environment Team. “If your work requires you to be outdoors, try to seek shade as much as possible, wear sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat, and avoid doing strenuous activities during the peak temperature hours of the day.”

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, cola, energy drinks and other beverages containing caffeine.
  • 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.
  • 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]