How does heat affect our health?
In the summer, the sun and beautiful weather are great sources of enjoyment… However, when the heat is too extreme, it is stressful to the body. Several organs, including the heart, have to work harder to resist the heat.
The effects of heat on health are more serious:
- During the first heat waves, since the body is not used to high temperatures
- If the heat lasts for several days, or nights stay hot
- When it is very humid and there is no wind
- If you live downtown, where the heat is more intense
- If you do not have air-conditioning in your home
The most common effects of heat on health are indirect. They are associated with worsening of symptoms in people who are already sick.
Although quite rare, the direct effects of heat are cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke. These effects can occur among people who are already sick or among healthy people who do strenuous physical activity in spite of the heat.
In case of heat stroke (elevated body temperature, confusion), emergency medical treatment is required. For heat cramps or heat exhaustion, rest in a cool place and drink water or a water-diluted sports beverage. If symptoms worsen or last more than an hour, consult a doctor.
What to do in Case of Heat Warning or Extreme Heat
When it's very hot, your health can deteriorate rapidly. To protect yourself from the effects of heat:
- drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day or as directed by the doctor;
- spend at least 2 hours a day in an air-conditioned or cool place (shopping center, library, etc.);
- take at least 1 shower or 1 fresh bath a day or refresh your skin several times a day with a wet towel;
- avoid alcohol reduce physical effort wear light clothing
- get news of your loved ones, especially those who are losing their autonomy or who live alone.
If you feel unwell or have any questions about your health, call Info-Santé 811 or ask a health professional.
In case of emergency, call 9-1-1.
Additional preventive measures for people who are at higher risk
|People at risk||Preventive measures|
Elderly people suffering from chronic cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, respiratory, kidney, or neurological diseases or diabetes
People taking medications such as tranquilisers, diuretics or anti-cholinergics
CAUTION! People at risk who live alone are twice as vulnerable during extreme heat waves.
1. To better prepare yourself for heat waves:
2. During heat waves:
|Young children (0 to 4 years of age)||
Parents should make sure that their children:
|People who take part in strenuous activity (jogging, bicycling, etc.)||
|Construction workers (or other outdoor manual labour) or people who work in places where heat is emitted through industrial processes (foundries, bakeries, dry cleaners, etc.)||Get a copy of the pamphlet “Attention au coup de chaleur” available in French in all CNESST regional offices|
Keep an eye on others!
During heat waves, we need to pay special attention to those around us who are most at risk. The following people may be unable to take protective measures without someone’s help, especially if they live alone:
- People with mental disorders
- Disabled people
- Elderly people with chronic diseases
- People who take tranquillisers, diuretics or anti-cholinergics
Whether somebody is a neighbour, a relative or a friend, do not hesitate to call or knock on the door of anyone around you who is at risk and offer them a hand.
Useful Emergency Numbers
Emergency : 9-1-1
Info-Santé : 8-1-1
CIUSSS de l'Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal : 514 697-4110