Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living once again reminds people of the extended heat advisory for the province of Manitoba.

The prolonged period of above normal temperatures continues with Environment and Climate Change Canada forecasting high temperatures throughout much of Manitoba this weekend, with even hotter temperatures expected Saturday and Sunday. Daytime temperatures may reach highs above 30 C and overnight temperatures will remain very warm, with lows near 16 C.

In addition, some areas may experience diminished air quality associated with the smoke from wildland fires burning in Alberta and British Columbia. Individuals may experience symptoms such as increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath. Children, seniors and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk. If your home is not
air-conditioned, take care to ensure it does not get too warm when doors and windows are closed to keep out smoke.

Manitobans are reminded to take precautions to prevent heat-related illness. Everyone is at risk for the effects of heat. However, during a period of prolonged heat, older adults, people with chronic illness, people on certain medications and people living alone have a particularly high risk for heat illness, especially if they are living in an urban area or do not have air conditioning. Others at greater health risks to heat include infants and young children and people who work or exercise in the heat.

When it is hot, take care of yourself and others. Regularly check on neighbours, friends and older family members, especially those who are ill or living alone, to make sure they are cool and drinking water. Visiting is best because it is easier to identify signs of heat illness that could be missed over the phone.

Never leave people or pets alone in a parked vehicle or direct sunlight. Supervise small children near open windows to prevent falls.

If a person has many of the following symptoms, their body may be overheating and at risk of heat illness or heat stroke:

  • headache;
  • red, hot and dry skin;
  • dizziness;
  • confusion;
  • nausea;
  • rapid weak pulse; and
  • a complete or partial loss of consciousness.

The longer a person’s body temperature is above 40 C (105 F), the greater the likelihood of permanent effects or death. If these symptoms occur, immediately move to a cool place and drink water.

Emergency medical care may be needed depending on the severity of symptoms. If someone has a high body temperature, is unconscious or is confused, call for help by dialing 911. While waiting, cool the person right away by moving them to a cool place, applying cold water to large areas of the skin or clothing, and fanning the person as much as possible.

Heat illnesses are preventable. The health effects of heat can be reduced by:

  • drinking plenty of liquids, especially water, before feeling thirsty;
  • wearing loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing and a wide-brimmed hat;
  • planning outdoor activities during cooler times of the day;
  • limiting alcohol consumption;
  • avoiding sun exposure and cancelling or rescheduling outdoor activities;
  • going to a cool place such as a mall, community centre, public library or place of worship;
  • taking a cool shower or bath; and
  • blocking sun out by closing awnings, curtains or blinds during the day.

For more information on heat and health, call Health Links-Info Santé at 204-788-8200 or 1 888 315 9257 (toll-free).