Extended Heat Warning and London's Vulnerable Population

Posted by Middlesex-London Health Unit on 

London, ON – The sweltering heat that has held the Middlesex-London region in its grip since late last week is expected to continue for the next several days. The latest Environment Canada forecast calls for daytime highs in the low 30s through Thursday and overnight low temperatures between 20C and 22C before things drop below 30C on Friday.

Due to this forecast, the Middlesex-London Health Unit is prolonging the current Extended Heat Warning it issued on June 29th, until overnight low temperatures drop below 20C, which is expected to happen between Thursday night and Friday morning.

“Extended periods of heat and humidity like we’ve seen over the weekend and are expecting over the next few days can be especially challenging for seniors, young children and those with medical conditions that put them at greater risk,” says Randy Walker, Public Health Inspector with the Middlesex-London Health Unit. “Our recommendation is that people take steps to keep themselves cool; that means drinking plenty of water, limiting outdoor physical activity and maybe spending some time at a local pool or splash pad.”

Overexposure to extreme heat and weather conditions can lead to Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke. Heat Exhaustion is characterized by heavy sweating, rapid breathing and a quick and weak pulse. Heat Stroke occurs when the body is no longer able to keep itself cool; the body’s core temperature rises above 40.6C (105.1F), the skin becomes dry, the pulse becomes rapid and strong, and the individual becomes dizzy.

To avoid heat-related illness, please follow these tips:

  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day, even if you don't feel very thirsty. Remember to take sips often and not to guzzle your drink.
  • Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages, coffee and cola.
  • Where possible, avoid spending too much time outdoors. If you must be outside, seek shade as much as possible. Plan outdoor activities in early morning or evening.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat when outdoors.
  • Keep window shades or drapes drawn and blinds closed on the sunny side of your home.
  • Avoid turning on electric lights in the home.
  • Take a cool bath or shower periodically or cool down with cool, wet towels.
  • Wear loose fitting, light clothing.
  • Avoid eating heavy meals and using your oven.
  • Avoid intense or moderately intense physical activity.
  • Never leave a child or pet in a parked car or sleeping outside in direct sunlight.
  • Use fans to draw cool air at night, but do not rely on a fan as a primary cooling device during extended periods of excessive heat.
  • Consult your doctor or pharmacist about the side effects of any medications you are taking.
  • Reduce the use of personal vehicles, stop unnecessary idling; avoid using oil-based paints and glues, pesticides and gas-powered small engines.

Seek help from a friend, relative or doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Weakness or fainting
  • More tiredness than usual
  • Headache
  • Confusion

You can help someone with heat illness by doing the following:

  • Call for help. Call 911, consult a healthcare provider or call Telehealth Ontario (1-866-797-0000 or TTY at 1-877-797-0007);
  • Move the person to a cooler location.
  • Remove excess clothing from the person.
  • Cool the person with lukewarm water, by sponging or bathing.
  • Give the person sips of cool water if they are not nauseated or vomiting. Do not give ice cold water.

As an owner or operator of residential buildings, landlords can take these actions to decrease the risk of heat-related illness to your residents:

  • Provide residents access to a cooler spot for several hours at a time, e.g. a common room with air conditioning or a basement area.
  • Keep windows in hallways slightly open to allow air to circulate.
  • Use fans to draw cool air at night, but do not rely on a fan as a primary cooling device during extended periods of excessive heat.
  • Provide heat safety information to residents or post the information in common areas e.g. by the elevator, in the lobby, etc.
  • Have building staff check on at-risk residents every few hours.
  • Advise residents to drink plenty of water even if they don't feel thirsty.
  • Ask residents to keep windows open and the drapes drawn.
  • Keep lights off. Do not use stove or oven.
  • Suggest residents cool down with cool baths, showers, foot baths or by placing cool, wet towels on their necks or underarms.
  • Suggest tenants avoid midday sun or heat and go outside in the morning or evening when it is cooler.

For more information about extreme weather warnings, heat-related illness and/or humidity visit: www.healthunit.com/extreme-heat

For information about pet care please contact the London Animal Care Centre 519-685-1330 or visit www.accpets.ca.

For a listing of Cooling Centres operated by the City of London during extreme heat events visit: http://www.london.ca/residents/Recreation/announcements/Pages/Cooling-Centres.aspx