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You made it through summer's first heat wave. Here's how to survive the next one

Heat stroke is a real danger, says Health Canada

While temperatures have become more liveable lately, we don't have to tell you it has been hot this summer.

And chances are we're in for a few more scorchers before the season is over.

With that in mind, It’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat stroke. Yes, even though Saultites are often told no matter how hot it gets enjoy it, cause winter is just around the corner!

According to Health Canada, “extreme” heat events will become more frequent and long-lasting, given the global climate crisis. It’s these events, consisting of high temperatures often combined with deadly humidity, that put people at risk for heat stroke – a condition that can come on quickly and lead to long-term health problems, even death.

Here are the dangers as your body struggles to keep itself cool, according to Health Canada:

  • heat edema (swelling of hands, feet, and ankles)
  • heat rash
  • heat cramps (muscle cramps)
  • heat fainting
  • heat exhaustion
  • heat stroke

And here's who is most at risk:

  • older adults
  • infants and young children
  • people with chronic illnesses (like breathing problems, mental illness, and heart problems)
  • people who work in the heat
  • people who exercise in the heat
  • homeless people
  • low-income earners

Young children and seniors are most at risk for severe dehydration and heat edema (swelling of hands, feet, and ankles), rash, fainting, exhaustion and even “stroke”. Heat stroke happens when your body reaches a temperature of 40 degrees C (104 F, and can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys, and muscles).

How can you avoid heat stroke? Health Canada says being prepared is your best defence.

Stay on top of weather forecasts so you know when it might get dangerously hot and when you should take extra care.

When you know it's going to get hot, find ways to stay cool. Air conditioner maintenance is important, and fans can be helpful if the humidity isn't high. If you don't have an air conditioner of your own, find a place with one nearby where you can go for even a few hours on hot days. 

Having someone visit you in person is important, say Health Canada experts, as symptoms of heat illness can be missed over the phone. Get someone to visit you regularly.

Out and about? Cool drinks are a must to keep on-hand in your vehicle.

Health Canada warns that delayed emergency treatment can even cause death, as is often seen in the summer months in urban spaces where seniors do not have access to regular supports or air conditioning.

Health Canada has more to say on the subject here, including what symptoms to watch for and what to do if you find yourself or a loved-one in jeopardy due to the heat.

Don’t forget dogs can also suffer heat stroke.

So heed the heat warnings, stay hydrated, and check on isolated seniors – especially those without A/C!