Extreme heat events: Overview

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Many places in Canada face extreme heat events, often called "heat waves." These events involve high temperatures and high humidity. A changing climate can mean longer and more intense heat events that can be dangerous for your health.
Heat events frequently cause death. Heat wave tragedies have killed more than:

  • 280 people in Quebec (2010)
  • 700 people in Chicago (1995)
  • 70,000 people in Europe (2003)
  • 595 people in British Columbia (2021)
  • 156 people in British Columbia (2009)

Extreme heat events due to a changing climate are a growing public health risk in Canada.

What we are doing about extreme heat

We are working to:

  • protect you from extreme heat
  • improve heat resiliency across Canada

We are doing this through:

  1. Heat-health messaging: We are using science-based messages to inform you about how heat affects your health and how to protect yourself.
  2. Heat-health science: Scientists are continuously researching ways for health authorities to improve the science behind calling a heat alert. They also look at the effectiveness of the actions you can take to protect yourself against the effects of heat.
  3. Information for health care providers: We are continuously identifying and addressing knowledge gaps to help health care workers prevent, diagnose and manage heat-related illnesses. We integrate the findings on how to prepare for extreme heat events into guidelines for health care providers.
  4. Heat alert and response systems: Heat alert and response systems protect people from extreme heat. We have produced guidelines that communities, both large and small, can use to develop their own heat alert and response systems. We have also developed a guidebook on heat alert and response systems. This guidebook can help health and emergency management professionals inform people about recognizing, preparing for and adapting to extreme heat events.

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