Heat warning: how to stay safe and beat the heat

June 25, 2021

Much of BC is under a heat warning as Environment Canada warns of dangerously high temperatures during this record-breaking heat wave. And while many of us will be looking to spend time 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 muscle weakness, dizziness, disorientation, and exhaustion. In severe cases of heat stroke – also known as sunstroke – it can be a life-threatening medical emergency. And with temperatures as high as Environment Canada is warning, these heat-illnesses can affect anyone, though young kids and adults over 65 are most susceptible to heatstroke.

The good news is that heat-related illnesses can almost always be prevented. Health officials are urging British Columbians to follow these tips for beatingDrinking%20water%20on%20an%20afternoon%20hike the heat and staying cool

  • Stay hydrated. Drink extra water even before you feel thirsty and avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages as they are diuretics which remove water from the body, and therefore actually increase your risk of heatstroke.
  • 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.
  • Avoid exercising outdoors. Exercising indoors where it’s air-conditioned or with a fan is preferrable, but if you absolutely must exercise outside, try to stay in shady areas, and do so in the early morning or later evening when temperatures are a bit cooler. 
  • Dress appropriately. Wear lightweight, light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing, sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat, or use an umbrella for shade.

While it’s fun to enjoy the heat, it’s important to also be sun smart and to also keep an eye on high risk family and friends. If you’re concerned about you or someone you know having a possible heat-related illness, make sure to contact your health care provider or your nearest emergency room right away. For more information visit HealthLinkBC’s page on Heat-related Illness.