Beat the Heat...

Beat the Heat: Staying Cool

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Air conditioners have been on overload this week as parents and kids alike try to stay cool.

Just days into the summer's first heat wave, air quality warnings are rampant as we are bombarded by temperatures well over 30 Celsius.

Adding to the sweltering heat and humidity – very little relief at night.  Toronto set a new record with an overnight high of 23.3 breaking a 15-year-old record.

According to Environment Canada, the stifling conditions have made their way through Ontario, Quebec and the Northeastern U.S., are now gripping Atlantic Canada.

The ensuing smog alerts have left the elderly as well as those with asthma, allergies or other respiratory conditions in search of cool comfort.

Heat stroke, heat exhaustion, not to mention skin exposure to the sun are all important to keep in mind during this heat wave.

According to Elaine Pacheco, Manager of Toronto Public Health some helpful tips to help our kids beat the heat are:

– Keep children hydrated, offer water or natural fruit juices even when not thirsty

– Take children to an air-conditioned environment when possible

– Reduce strenuous outdoor physical activity, especially between 11:00 am and 4:00 pm, if outdoors stay in the shade

– Never leave a child in a parked car or asleep in the direct sun, monitor your children closely

Children are much more susceptible to heat-related illness such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

“The most important and easiest step in preventing heat-related illness is to ensure that children drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after their activities. Being properly hydrated is the first step in preventing heat-related illness,” says Pacheco.

Lianne Castelino, co-founder of WhereParentsTalk.com and mother of three agrees and says to remember “kids are often too busy playing to realize when it is time to take a break and get a drink, this is when a parent has to step in to ensure their child is being properly hydrated.”

Some signs to look for in spotting a heat related illness are:
– weakness
– dizziness
–  headache
– extreme fatigue
– lethargy
–  If your child  faints, has difficulty breathing or appears confused and disoriented, call your doctor or go to your nearest hospital.  In an emergency, call 911.

In these summer months, it is important to remember even when we are not in a “heat wave” that these conditions can happen very easily.

“Dress your child in light weight, loose, light-coloured clothing and apply sunscreen and provide a hat when outdoors,” says Pacheco, manager of Toronto Public Health.

Andrea Howick, co-founder of WhereParentsTalk.com says, “despite the heat, it is important to kids get outside to enjoy the summer.  However, when extreme heat kicks in, taking a trip to an air conditioned library, or even a indoor picnic are simple, cool options kids will love!”

Helpful heat information:

During Alerts, for more information about the health effects of heat, call the Canadian Red Cross Heat Information Line 416-480-2615.

An hourly Air Quality Health Index can be found at www.airhealth.ca

For more information on staying cool in your city visit your local city health website such as:

http://www.toronto.ca/health/heatalerts/index.htm

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