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Public advisory

Health Canada Reminds Canadians to Keep Their "Hotness" In Check During Extreme Heat Conditions

Starting date:
June 20, 2012
Posting date:
June 20, 2012
Type of communication:
Source of recall:
Health Canada
Physical Hazard
General Public
Identification number:


It's the first day of summer and Canadians are eager to get outside and enjoy the weather. Health Canada reminds you to take appropriate action to help protect yourself and your family from extreme heat.

Who is affected

Everyone is at risk from extreme heat. During extreme heat events in Vancouver in 2009 and Montreal in 2010, 307 Canadians died from heat-related causes. Vulnerable populations such as young children, seniors, people with pre-existing medical conditions and those without access to air conditioning are most at risk.

Signs and symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion

  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Headache
  • Rapid breathing and heartbeat
  • Extreme thirst
  • Decreased urination with unusually dark yellow urine

If you or someone in your care experiences any of these symptoms during extreme heat, move to a cool place immediately and drink cool liquids. Water is best.

Heat stroke is a medical emergency and must be treated. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately if you see someone who is either unconscious, confused or has stopped sweating. While waiting for help, move them to a cool place, apply cold water to large areas of their skin and clothing and fan the person as much as possible.

How to protect yourself from extreme heat

  • If you have a health condition or are taking medication, ask your pharmacist or doctor if this increases your health risk in the heat.
  • Visit neighbours, friends and older family members to make sure they're cool and hydrated.
  • Drink plenty of cool liquids, especially water, before you feel thirsty to decrease your risk of dehydration. Thirst is not a good indicator of dehydration.
  • Reschedule or plan outdoor activities during cooler parts of the day.
  • Wear loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing made of breathable fabric.
  • Never leave people or pets inside a parked vehicle or in direct sunlight.
  • Spend a few hours in a cool place such as a tree-shaded area, swimming facility or an air-conditioned spot such as a public building or shopping mall.
  • Take cool showers or baths until you feel refreshed.
  • Prepare meals that don't need to be cooked in your oven.
  • Block sun out by closing awnings, curtains or blinds during the day.
  • Avoid sun exposure. Shade yourself by wearing a wide-brimmed, breathable hat or using an umbrella.
  • Watch for heat alerts, and pay attention to poor air quality forecasts. Consult the #AirQualityHealthIndex at before heading outside.

What is Health Canada doing

There is growing evidence that our climate is changing and that these changes are affecting the health and well-being of people around the world – including Canada. Health Canada is collaborating with researchers and decision-makers around the world to increase knowledge about how a changing climate can affect human health.

In 2007, the Government of Canada announced its intention to help Canadians adapt to a changing climate. Health Canada has developed resources which are available to help health and emergency management communities inform Canadians about recognizing, preparing for, and adapting to extreme heat events. These resources include best practices and lessons learned on developing the Heat Alert and Response System (HARS) which is designed to strengthen the capacity of communities to help protect those most vulnerable, such as seniors and infants, from extreme heat.

In addition, Health Canada has also released a technical guide for health care workers that provides general information on recognizing, treating and preventing extreme heat-related illnesses.

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