Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer, July 6, 2023
July 6, 2023 | Ottawa, ON | Public Health Agency of Canada
This summer, we are witnessing the effects of climate change firsthand, as Canada continues to experience more intense and frequent severe weather events.
Many regions and communities across the country have been dealing with the effects of heat waves, wildfires, floods, and intense storms – sometimes a combination of all of these at once.
Extreme heat poses a serious health risk. Heat illnesses can affect you quickly and can lead to long-term health problems and even death. In 2021 in British Columbia over six hundred people lost their lives.
No matter where you live in Canada, you need to be aware of the risks that wildfires and extreme heat can have on your health – and take precautions to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Prepare for the heat by checking your local forecasts and alerts so you know when to take extra care. Wear loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing made of breathable fabric and stay hydrated.
To reduce your exposure to the combination of wildfire smoke and extreme heat, limit the time you spend outdoors. If possible, spend at least a few hours each day in a cool place with clean air, this could be your home or a place in your community, like a library or community centre.
Pay close attention to how you and those around you are feeling. If you feel unwell during hot weather, move to a cool place and drink liquids. Remember, water is best. Take cool showers or baths until you feel refreshed.
Heat Stroke, a severe form of heat illness, is a medical emergency. Symptoms can include a high body temperature, confusion and lack of coordination, dizziness/fainting, and a lack of sweating, but very hot, red skin.
Should you or a loved one experience these symptoms, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
Although extreme heat can affect everyone, older adults, infants and young children, people with chronic illnesses, including mental illness, and people who work outdoors are most vulnerable.
In addition, if the air quality is poor or if you see or smell smoke, you can reduce smoke exposure by staying inside with doors and windows closed but keep cool – being too hot poses more risk than breathing smoke for most people. If you do not have air conditioning and it is too warm to stay inside with the windows closed, seek out a local cooling or clean air space. If you must spend time outside, consider using a well-fitted respirator type mask to reduce exposure to the fine particles from wildfire smoke.
Check in on neighbours, family and friends who are alone, especially those who are elderly, chronically ill, or have disabilities, in case they need help.
While heat illnesses are serious, the good news is they can be prevented.
Public Health Agency of Canada
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