Prevent heat-related illness

Tribune-Post Staff
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New Brunswickers are being advised to take precautions to avoid heat-related illness.

“When hot temperatures combine with high humidity to give a humidex value over 35 or there are several hot days in a row, your body has to work harder to keep you cool,” said provincial medical officer of health Dr. Cristin Muecke. “As a result you can be at an increased risk of heat-related illness.”

Those most at risk include older adults, children four-years-old and under, people who are overweight, and those with chronic medical conditions, especially heart disease and high blood pressure.

People on certain medications that impair the body's ability to regulate heat or perspiration – including those with mental-health conditions – are also at risk. People who live alone, have difficulty caring for themselves, or are immobile and unable to relocate to a cooler environment, are also at high risk.

Even young and healthy individuals can be affected by heat if they engage in strenuous physical activities.

"Paleness, muscle cramps, fatigue, headache, nausea and rapid breathing and heartbeat are all symptoms," Muecke said. "Anyone experiencing symptoms should be moved to a cool environment, drink cool non-alcoholic beverages and rest. This simple act can save a life. If symptoms worsen or are severe, seek immediate medical attention. What may start as a mild form of heat-related illness might progress to heat stroke, which could be life-threatening."

New Brunswickers should take these precautions:

drink plenty of fluids, especially water, before feeling thirsty;plan outdoor activities for cooler parts of the day;avoid exposure to the sun. If you must be outside, use a sunscreen with at least an SPF of 15 or higher, wear light-coloured clothing and a wide-brimmed hat;limit physical activity and pace yourself carefully;never leave someone or a pet inside a parked car or in direct sunlight;spend a few hours in a cool place (mall, library, shaded park or at a pool);electric fans alone may not provide enough cooling to prevent heat illness when the temperature and humidity are high - a cool bath or shower is a more effective way to cool off;keep windows closed as much as possible if the temperature outside is higher than it is inside; andkeep sun out with curtains or blinds.

Further information about heat illness and dangers to your health is available online.

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