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Stay cool and stay safe
Stay cool and stay safe
On a hot summer day a quick step outside is enough to know the temperatures can climb quickly. And while many may bask in the sun's warm rays, some serious dangers are attached to high temperatures.
So what's the difference between a streak of warm days and a heat wave?
"Everybody uses the phrase "heat wave" colloquially, but in Canada, it's actually a specific term. Typically, temperatures need to be at or above 32C for three consecutive days to qualify -- although try telling someone who's sweltering that it's not "technically" a heat wave!" said Daniel Martins, a writer for The Weather Network.
So are heat warnings always in effect during a heat wave? Not so fast Martins said.
"Unlike heat waves, which are based on how many days temperatures are above a certain level, heat warnings are declared usually ahead of time when temperatures are expected to reach dangerous levels. In Ontario, Environment Canada issues heat warnings when daytime highs are expected to reach 30C AND the humidex makes it feel like 40 ... OR when temperatures are expected to reach 40C or greater," he explained. "So depending on the circumstances, you could have a three-day heat wave and only see heat warnings issued for one or two of those days. Heat warnings are really meant to warn the public of the health hazards of the heat, not help decide whether it's a "proper" heat wave."
How does the heat affect us?
According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety's website, rising temperatures and humidity can lead to people displaying a variety of symptoms.
Increased irritability is often a first sign.
Loss of concentration and ability to do mental tasks
Loss of ability to do skilled tasks or heavy work
If exposure to heat continues any of the following illnesses are possible.
Heat edema which is swelling and generally occurs among people not acclimatized to working hot conditions. Often it's most noticeable near the ankles. A day or two in a cool environment should be enough to recover.
Heat rash. These tiny red spots on the skin produce a prickling sensation. Sweat glands being plugged lead to inflammation which causes the rash.
Heat cramps are sharp pain that can occur alone or in combination with any of ther other illnesses. A salt imbalance is responsible.
Heat exhaustion. A loss of body water and salt through excessive sweating can lead to this. Weakness, dizziness, visual disturbancess, nausea, headache and even vomiting are all signs and symptons.
Heat syncope, this heat-induced dizziness and fainting can be caused by insufficient blood to the brain while the person is standing in a hot environment.
Heat stroke is the most serious of heat-related illness. Signs are body temps upwards of 41 C as well as a complete or partial loss of consciousness. Heat strokes require immediate first aid and medical attention. Delayed treatment may result in death.
What to do?
If you or someone else is suffering from heat exhaustion make sure you move to a cooler, shaded location. Remove as much clothing as possible (including socks and shoes) and cool down by applying wet cloths or ice to your head, face and neck. Drink plenty of fluids: water, clear juice or a sports drink; and get medical aid! Make sure someone is staying with the affected person until help arrives.
If someone has had a heat stroke, call 911 immediately and stay with them. Cool them down with cold, wet clothes and offer sips of water but do not force them to drink.
But the best way to deal with heat-related illnesses is by PREVENTING them. "If it's super hot out, and you are struggling to handle it, don't be stupid about it. Listen to your body. Drink water, get into the shade, don't exert yourself. Heat exhaustion can creep up on you," Martins added.