Ontario Doctors: Summer heat can be dangerous, take extra care

TORONTO, July 31, 2012 /CNW/ - With no indication that the record breaking heat is going to subside this August, Ontario's doctors are helping patients recognize the signs of heat related illness and what to do if they experience symptoms.

Heat illness can result in the swelling of hands and feet, heat rash, cramping muscles, heat exhaustion or fainting, and heatstroke.  Heatstroke is the most serious heat-related illness and is a medical emergency.  A person suffering heatstroke requires immediate first aid treatment, by cooling the skin or clothes with water and trying to have the person drink liquids.  Of particular concern are older Ontarians, who are highly vulnerable to heat illness and need to take extra precautions when the temperatures soar.

Elderly people living alone should pay close attention to how they're feeling on hot days, and take a number of precautions against heat illness, including:

  • Speaking to their doctor about how the heat will interact with any pre-existing medical conditions they have or medications they are taking;
  • Ensuring that they have a cool place to go to for a few hours each day, such as a mall, community centre, library, or place of worship. This is most important if their home is not air conditioned;
  • Arranging for regular visits from  friends, family, community support workers, or neighbours in case they need assistance;
  • Drinking lots of water before they begin to feel thirsty, in order to keep hydrated;
  • Avoiding using the oven to cook meals, but still being sure to eat something at meal times even if they don't feel overly hungry.  Lack of appetite is a sign that the body is getting too hot;
  • Finding a cool place to rest or taking a cool shower if they feel hot.

For more detailed information on staying healthy in the heat, Ontario's doctors are encouraging patients to go to www.oma.org/HealthPromotion/heat/Pages/default.aspx, where they will find fact sheets on how to identify and prevent heat illnesses for older Ontarians, young children, and people who are physically active outdoors.


"With a little over a month to go this summer people are going to be spending more and more time outside. It's important to be aware of the higher than usual temperatures and humidity. Doctors want to remind people that heat illness is a serious matter and to avoid situations that put you at risk. This is especially true for older Ontarians who may need to take additional precautions to prevent heat illness."

Dr. Doug Weir
Ontario Medical Association

Quick Facts:

  • Young children, people who are physically active through work or exercise, and the elderly are the groups most at risk when it comes to heat illness
  • Chronic medical conditions such as cardio-pulmonary disease, kidney problems, hypertension, or mental illness make a person more vulnerable to suffering heat illnesses
  • Days with high temperatures and high humidity are especially dangerous, as humidity impairs the body's natural ability to cool off through sweat evaporation

SOURCE: Ontario Medical Association

For further information:

OMA Media Relations at (416) 340-2862 or toll-free at 1-800-268-7215 ext. 2862

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Ontario Medical Association

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