Public health officials with Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living are issuing an extended heat warning for southern and central regions of the province.

Environment and Climate Change Canada is forecasting high temperatures in Manitoba for the next week. This system will bring hot conditions to southern and central Manitoba, with some areas experiencing extreme heat for three or four days.

Everyone is at risk for the effects of heat. However, during a period of prolonged heat, older adults, people with chronic illness 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.

Take care of yourself and others. Check in regularly with vulnerable or socially isolated community members, friends and family. Contact people by phone where possible to reduce face-to-face interactions, which will help control the spread of COVID-19.

Never leave people or pets alone in a parked vehicle or direct sunlight.

Certain substances, including amphetamines, MDMA (ecstasy), cocaine, alcohol and cannabis can alter mental status as well as increase the risk of over-heating. Some medications can also increase risk, so it is important to ask doctors or pharmacists whether prescribed medication affects the ability to cope with heat.

If someone 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. While waiting, cool the person right away by moving them to a cool place, apply cold water to large areas of the skin or clothing, and fan 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 considering cancelling or rescheduling outdoor activities;
  • going to a cool place such as a mall, community centre, public library or place of worship, after checking the hours these sites are open under COVID-19 restrictions;
  • 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 (toll-free) 1-888-315-9257.