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How to Beat the Heat

In the summer, the combination of high heat, high humidity, and smog can be very dangerous. You need to be extra careful, those especially at risk during these weather conditions include:

  • The elderly
  • People with certain chronic illnesses, such as heart or lung conditions or people unable to move or change position by themselves
  • Infants and preschool children
  • People who exercise vigorously or are involved in strenuous work outdoors for prolonged periods
  • People taking certain medications, for example, for mental health conditions. (Please consult your doctor or pharmacist).
How to avoid heat related illness:
  • Drink lots of water and natural juices even if you don’t feel very thirsty.
  • Avoid going out in the blazing sun or heat when possible. If you must go outside, stay in the shade as much as possible and plan to go out early in the morning or evening when it is cooler and smog levels may not be as high as in the afternoon. Wear a hat.
  • Take advantage of air conditioned or cool places such as shopping malls, libraries, community centres or a friend’s place.
  • Try to spend some time near the lake or waterfront where it is cooler.
  • If you don’t have air conditioning, keep shades or drapes drawn and blinds closed on the sunny side of your home, but keep windows slightly open.
  • Keep electric lights off or turned down low.
  • Take a cool bath or shower periodically or cool down with cool, wet towels.
  • Wear loose fitting, light clothing.
  • Avoid heavy meals and using your oven.
  • Avoid intense or moderately intense physical activity.
  • Try to take it easy, and rest as much as possible.
  • Never leave a child in a parked car or sleeping outside in direct sunlight.
  • If you sleep outside during the day, try to sleep in the shade. Remember the sun moves, so try to sleep in a spot that will be shady for a few hours.
  • Fans alone may not provide enough cooling when the temperature is high.
  • Consult your doctor or pharmacist regarding side effects of your medications.
Get help from a friend, relative, or a doctor if you have the following symptoms of heat illness:
  • Rapid breathing
  • Weakness or fainting
  • More tiredness than usual
  • Headache
  • Confusion
Friends and relatives can help someone with heat illness by doing the following:
  • Call for help.
  • Remove excess clothing from the person.
  • Cool the person with lukewarm water, by sponging or bathing.
  • Move the person to a cooler location.
  • Give the person sips of cool water, not ice cold water.

If you become ill, faint, have difficulty breathing or feel confused and disoriented, call your doctor.

In an emergency, call 911.

Summer Safety: Fan Facts

  • Use your fan in or next to a window. Box fans are best.
  • Use a fan to bring in the cooler air from outside.
  • Use your fan by plugging it directly into the wall outlet. If you need an extension cord, it should be CSA (Canadian Standards Association) approved.
  • Don’t use a fan in a closed room without windows or doors open to the outside.
  • Don’t believe that fans cool air. They don’t. They just move the air around. Fans keep you cool by evaporating your sweat.
  • Don’t use a fan to blow extremely hot air on yourself. This can cause heat exhaustion to happen faster.
  • If you’re afraid to open your window to use a fan, choose other ways to keep cool. See the other tips on this page.
Medications and Heat-Related Illness

Some medications make it harder for your body to control its temperature. If you are taking any of the medications listed below, you are at higher risk for heat-related illness, especially if you are doing lots of exercise or heavy work and are not drinking enough water. This is even more true if you are on 2 or more medications.

The list below is based in part on information from the Office of the Chief Coroner. Please note it is not complete. Also, some drugs have different brand names, so check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist to be sure.

  • chlorpromazine (Thorazine, Largactil) *
  • thioridazine (Mellaril) *
  • perphenazine (Trilafon) *
  • fluphenazine (Modecate, Moditen) *
  • thiothixene (Navane) *
  • trifluoperazine (Stelazine)
  • prochloperazine (Stemetil)
  • haloperidol (Haldol)
  • clozapine (Clozaril)
  • risperidone (Risperdal)
  • loxapine (Loxapac, Loxitane)
  • fluspirilene (IMAP)
  • pimozide (Orap)
  • olanzapine
  • flupenthixol (Fluanxol)
  • zuclopenthixol (Clopixol)
  • reserpine (Serpasil, Serpalan)
  • Lithium – heavy exercise or heavy sweating in hot weather may change lithium levels, so that you may have too much or too little in your system.

* The medicines starred here may make it easier for your skin to burn. Many other medicines may also cause your skin to burn more easily. To be sure, ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist. Try to stay out of the sun. If you can’t, try to get sunscreen and wear a hat and long sleeves.

Antiparkinson drugs such as:
  • benztropine (Cogentin)
  • biperiden (Akineton)
  • ethopropazine (Parsitan, Parsidol)
  • procyclidine (Kemadrin, Procyclid)
  • trihexyphenidyl (Artane, Trihexane)
  • levodopa (Dopar)
  • selegiline (Eldepryl)
  • amantadine (Symmetrel, Symadine)
Antidepressants such as:
  • amitriptyline (Elavil)
  • doxepine (Sinequan)
  • clomipramine (Anafranil)
  • protriptyline (Vivactil)
  • imipramine (Tofranil)
  • desipramine (Norpramin)
  • nortriptyline (Pamelor)
  • fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • fluvoxetine (Luvox)
  • sertraline (Zoloft)
  • paroxetine (Paxil)
If you also take the medicines below, you further increase your risk for heat-illness:
  • some antihistamines (e.g. Benadryl, Chlortripolon)
  • over-the-counter sleeping pills (e.g. Nytol)
  • anti-diarrhea pills (e.g. Lomotil)

If you are taking any medications regularly, ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist if you need to be extra careful during hot weather.