As western Canada experiences an unprecedented heat wave this week, avoiding heat related illness remains a top of mind safety concern for our employees and customers.
To help beat the heat this week, our safety experts prepared three tips to help you stay cool, stay hydrated and stay informed over the next few days:
Tip one: Stay Cool
Staying cool is important so if you have to be out in the heat wear lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing. If you can, take breaks from the heat by going to an air-conditioned place as much as possible like a shopping mall or a public library - even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler before going back into the heat.
If you don't have air conditioning in your home, other ways you can stay cool are to:
- Use an electric fan where possible to help circulate the air,
- Take a cool shower or bath,
- Use your stove and oven less to maintain a cooler temperature in your home,
- consider ordering in food or BBQing.
Try to also limit your outdoor activity to when it’s coolest, like the morning and evening hours. Rest often in shady areas so that your body has a chance to recover.
Work at a pace you feel comfortable and take breaks as required. Try to cut down on exercise during the heat. If you’re not accustomed to working or exercising in a hot environment, start slowly and pick up the pace gradually. If exertion in the heat makes your heart pound and leaves you gasping for breath, STOP all activity. Get into a cool area or into the shade, and rest, especially if you become lightheaded, confused, weak, or faint
Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool down and can make you dehydrated. If you must go outdoors, make sure to protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 60.
Do not leave children in cars
Cars can quickly heat up to dangerous temperatures, even with a window cracked open. While anyone left in a parked car is at risk, children are especially at risk of getting a heat stroke or dying.
Tip Two: Stay Hydrated
As much as possible drink more fluids, regardless of how active you are. Try not to wait until you're thirsty to drink. As tempting as it is, try to stay away from very sugary or alcoholic drinks as they actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also try to avoid very cold drink as they can cause stomach cramps.
Heavy sweating removes all the salt and minerals from the body that need to be replaced. A sports drink is a great alternative and can help to replace the salt and minerals you lose when sweating.
Tip Three: Stay Informed
Check your local news for extreme heat alerts and safety tips and to learn about any cooling shelters in your area.
Know the signs
Learn the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses and how to treat them. When working in the heat use the buddy system and monitor the condition of your co-workers and have someone do the same for you. Heat-induced illness can cause a person to become confused or lose consciousness. If you are 65 years of age or older, have a friend or relative call to check on you twice a day during a heatwave. If you know someone in this age group, check on them at least twice a day.
Monitor those at High Risk
Although anyone at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others:
- Infants and young children,
- People 65 years of age or older,
- People who overexert during work or exercise, and
- People who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure, or who take certain medications, such as for depression, insomnia, or poor circulation.
The heatwave is set to continue over the next few days so we hope these tips help you, your colleagues, and loved ones stay safe. If you have concerns or questions, it's always good practice to check in with your safety officer, supervisor or foreman in the upcoming days.