Heat and humidity still a health risk
While the recent rainstorms have helped wash dust and pollen out of the air and helped refresh lawns and gardens around the region, the weather in general remains hot and humid going into August.
Even though the heatwave of July has passed on by, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit reminds all residents to remember to take precautions to avoid the chance of heat exhaustion or related illness while the summer temperature continues to sit in the high 20s or low 30s during the next few weeks. The humidity level can make those temperatures seem even higher.
Seniors, infants, and very young children along with people who have chronic illnesses, and those who have to work long hours outside in the heat or are doing train- ing exercises outside are the ones most at risk for heat-related illness. The first rule is to stay in the shade as much as possible when outdoors and keep hydrated by regular drinks of water. Do not wait until thirsty but take regular sips during the day.
Schedule outside activities, if possible, for either early in the morning or later in the evening, when it is cooler. When outside, wear loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing made of breathable fabric. Wear a wide-brimmed hat or even carry a parasol. Dress babies and young children in light clothes. Do not bundle up infants in blankets or heavy clothing if they are in strollers or walkers or riding in a child carrier.
Do not leave children or pets inside parked vehicles sitting in direct sunlight. Park in the shade. Better still, leave pets at home when possible and keep children with you when getting out of the car and going inside for errands.
When working outside, take breaks to go sit in a cool place, whether a shaded area, an air-conditioned building, or at a public pool. After being outside, take a cool shower or bath.
When indoors, block sun by drawing shades or blinds and closing awnings. Also check with a doctor or pharmacist if any prescription medications or personal health conditions are affected by extreme heat conditions.
Symptoms of heat-related illnesses may include swelling of the hands, feet and ankles, rash or muscle cramps, dizziness or fainting, nausea or vomiting, headache, rapid breathing and heartbeat, extreme thirst and decreased urination with the urine a dark yellow colour. If any of these symptoms appear and persist, go right away to a cool place and drink water or other cool liquids.
A heat stroke situation requires immediate medical attention. Call 911 if someone has a high body temperature, and appears confused, or has stopped sweating, or collapsed unconscious. While waiting for help, move them to a cool place; apply cold wet cloths to as much of the body as possible, and fan the person as much as possible.
For more information on dealing with heat-related problems, phone the EOHU at 1-800-267-7120 or go to www.eohu.ca.