Heat warning: how to beat the heat

July 24, 2018

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement advising of a heat warning in effect for Metro Vancouver and the entire south coast of BC. And since most of us will be outside enjoying the sunshine and warm weather, it’s important to remember that with high temperatures comes an increased likelihood of heat-related illnesses.

Too much heat can be harmful to your health. When your body can’t properly cool itself, heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke can occur and can lead to feelings of weakness, dizziness, disorientation, and exhaustion. In severe cases, it can cause heat stroke – also known as sunstroke – which can be a life-threatening medical emergency. Such heat-related illnesses can affect anyone, though the risks are greater for young children, pregnant women, older adults, people with chronic illnesses and those working or exercising outdoors.

The good news is that heat-related illnesses can almost always be prevented. Here are some tips for beating the heat and staying cool:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Drink extra water even before you feel thirsty and if you are active on a hot day. Ask your health care provider about how much water you should drink on hot days if you are on water pills or limiting your fluid intake.
  • Keep cool. Stay indoors in air-conditioned buildings, make use of local pools or take a cool bath or shower. Remember, sunscreen will protect against the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays but not from the heat.
  • Avoid sunburn. Stay in the shade and make sure to use a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher on exposed skin.
  • Plan your outdoor time. If you’re a runner, walker or outdoor enthusiast, plan your outdoor activity before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m., when it’s a bit cooler. 
  • Dress appropriately. Wear lightweight, light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing and a wide brimmed hat, or use an umbrella for shade.

Be sun smart while you’re enjoying the heat, and if you are concerned about possible heat-related illness make sure to contact your family doctor or nearest emergency center right away.

Media stories on this topic:
CBC News – Heat warning issued for B.C.'s South Coast
Global News – Environment Canada warns of hot weather in Metro Vancouver and south coast