Keeping cool was the name of the game this week as our region – and most of Central Canada and northeastern U.S. – roasted in a nearly weeklong heat wave.
A southern flow of hot air from the south blanketed the area and acted like a heat pump, moving warm, southerly air from the Gulf of Mexico northward over the eastern United States and through Ontario, explained Peter Kimbell, warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada. Temperatures for our area were in the 30s this past week but with the humidity, it felt more like 40 degrees Celsius or hotter.
“It’s not the heat that is making being outside uncomfortable, it’s the heavy, muggy air,” said Kimbell. “That humidity is what is causing the current temperatures to feel as hot as they do.”
As temperatures soared, health officials at the Region of Waterloo encouraged residents to get creative when it comes to keeping cool this summer.
“People with heart or respiratory problems, seniors and children are especially at risk of serious complications from high heat and smog levels,” said David Young, manager of health protection and investigation at the public health department. “But when it’s this hot out, everyone needs to be careful. This includes people playing sports, or people who work outside, someone going for a jog in the afternoon after work, and even pets.”
There are a number of things that people can do to avoid heat-related illness, including drinking plenty of water or natural fruit juices, wearing light, loose-fitting clothes and eating light, cool foods.
“It may sound like a lot, but if you’re spending significant time outdoors you should be drinking about a cup of water every 20 minutes.”
Also, avoid using the oven or other hot appliances and stay in air-conditioned rooms, either at home, a friend’s place or public spaces such as malls, libraries or community facilities.
Heat exhaustion can manifest in a number of different ways including symptoms of fatigue, muscle cramps, dizziness, nausea, headaches, even anxiety and confusion. Symptoms of heat stroke, a more serious condition, can include headache, dizziness, confusion and fainting. This is a medical emergency that can be fatal if not treated.
“Heat exhaustion is something that we all need to be looking out for,” said Young. “Parents, and coaches of kids’ teams should be aware of the symptoms and allow kids to take lots of water breaks and encourage them to stay in the shade if possible.”
For more tips on how to beat the heat, visit the Region of Waterloo’s website, chd.region.waterloo.on.ca.