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Exercise extreme caution during extreme heat

In There’s No Business Like Show Business, Heat Wave is an Irving Berlin masterpiece. In reality, a heat wave can be deadly.

Exposure can lead to heat cramps, heat exhaustion or the extremely dangerous heat stroke.

The stress heat puts on your body is more extreme during the first hot days of the season, when humidity is high, if you live downtown where temperatures are highest and if the heat extends into the night with no letup.

Extreme heat is defined as a day when the mercury hits at least 30 degrees Celsius or the humidex level (humidity and heat combined) is 40C or higher.

After a long winter, summer is welcome, but the sun can be dangerous. Photo: Hayley Juhl

Health officials identify people at risk as those with chronic cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, respiratory, kidney or neurological diseases, or diabetes. Those taking tranquilizers, diuretics or anti-cholinergics must be extremely cautious. Stock up on bottled water and sports beverages designed to maintain hydration. Follow basic preventive measures before heat exhaustion sets in: Head to a mall or the library, anywhere air-conditioned, even if it’s just for an hour or two. If you do not have air conditioning and can’t arrange to spend the night away from home, sleep with the windows open and keep water and a cool cloth by the bed. Drink before you’re thirsty but avoid alcohol, sugary drinks and caffeine, which can dehydrate you. Avoid strenuous activities and wear lightweight, light-coloured clothing and a hat.

Listen to your body. If you feel a malaise, dizziness, fatigue, headache, difficulty breathing, chest pain or have swollen legs, contact Info-Santé (call 811) or your doctor immediately.

People who live alone are twice as vulnerable during extreme heat waves, health officials warn. Seniors should have tele-check or a friend call daily to make sure everything’s okay.

Don’t hesitate to check up on your neighbour or call someone you think might be at risk.

Sources: Direction de santé publique, Agence de développement de réseau locaux de services de santé et de services sociaux de Montréal. Info:



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