Year over year, we are seeing extreme heat events become more common and severe in British Columbia and across Canada. In fact, the record-breaking heatwave British Columbians experienced in 2021 was among the most extreme since the 1960s. As we look into the future, the annual number of extremely hot days in some parts of Canada are predicted to more than double over the next 30 years.
Now that we are in the throws of summer (holidays) it is crucial to protect yourself and your loved ones from the sun. Forgetting to drink enough water while having fun in the sun can cause many Canadians (including children) to run the risk of heat-related illness, including but not limited to, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Stay safe this summer during extreme heat by taking extra precautions and understanding the symptoms of heat-related illness.
How to keep cool
It might not come as a surprise that according to Health Canada, water is essential to help move nutrients and waste through the body, maintain blood pressure, protect joints and organs, help control body temperature and lower risk of dehydration and heat stroke.
Plain water can become boring to kids over time. Naturally flavored water with fruit and fresh herbs can help to boost fluid intake in a more exciting way! Consider this guide for daily water intake.
Age Daily adequate intake 1-3 years 4 cups, or 32 ounces 4-8 years 5 cups, or 40 ounces 9-13 years 7-8 cups, or 56-64 ounces 14-18 years 8-11 cups, or 64-88 ounces men, 19 and older 13 cups, or 104 ounces women, 19 and older 9 cups, or 72 ounces pregnant women 10 cups, or 80 ounces breastfeeding women 13 cups, or 104 ounces
Check the local weather in advance and stay cool indoors when possible. If you must be outside during a heatwave, scout out shaded areas, apply (and re-apply) sunscreen and wear loose fitting clothes. Never leave pets or children unattended in a car.
Try to avoid using the oven or other heat emitting sources when possible. If you or someone in your family is struggling to manage the heat, take a cold shower.
Avoid exposing your child to extreme heat
Reschedule or find alternatives. Reschedule or plan outdoor activities during cooler parts of the day.
Avoid sun exposure
- Dress your child in loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing made from a breathable fabric.
- Keep your child in the shade or protected from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed, breathable hat or shade them with an umbrella.
- Tree-shaded areas could be as much as 5ºC cooler than the surrounding area.
- Limit your time in the sun.
- Use a broad spectrum sunscreen that is SPF30 or higher and follow the product instructions.
Heat stroke vs. heat exhaustion
To know how to treat heat stroke and heat exhaustion, you first need to know the different symptoms.
- Body temp greater than 103°F/39°C F with an absence of sweating
What to do: Call 911 immediately
- Excessive sweating
- Muscle cramps
Heat stroke is a medical emergency! If you are caring for a child who has a high body temperature and is unconscious, confused or has stopped sweating, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
Stay safe and enjoy your summer
Summer can be a fun and memorable time for families – just don’t let the fun get in the way of keeping hydrated and planning for hot days.
Health Canada would like to give a little reminder to stay safe and keep cool as we head into hot weather over the next week.