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Public Heatlh : How To Keep Cool

During even the hottest days of summer, there are a number of ways to stay healthy and comfortable without the help of air conditioning. Here are some tips on how to keep cool :

Drink plenty of fluids.

Liquids help to keep the body cool by allowing it to sweat. Liquids are also necessary to help maintain bodily functions. Drink plenty of water and fruit juices. Avoid caffeinated beverages such as colas, coffee and tea, as well as alcoholic beverages, all of which contribute to fluid loss.

Wear loose clothing.

Opt for loose-fitting, light-weight, light-coloured clothes made of natural fibres like cotton rather than tight-fitting, dark clothes made from synthetic fabrics.

Stay indoors.

If you have to go out, wear a hat, light clothing and sunscreen. Try to stay in shaded areas.

Avoid strenuous activity between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm.

Do not garden or exercise when the temperature is at its hottest.

Use a fan.

To help conserve energy, keep cool with the help of a fan rather than air conditioning. Remember to turn the fan off when you leave the room.

If you fall into one of the following categories, please remember your health comes first :

  • Seniors, infants and children
  • People suffering from such chronic illnesses as heart disease
  • People who use certain medicines such as diuretics and antihistamines
It is important that you do Not put your health at risk by turning off your air conditioner.

Close blinds and draw curtains.

Block the sun's heat to keep the indoors cooler.

Sponge or spray cool water on the face, neck and arms.

The water on the skin helps dissipate heat.

One of the possible consequences of prolonged exposure to hot weather is heat stroke (also called sun stroke) which can be a life-threatening condition, one that requires immediate treatment. It happens when the body is unable to regulate its temperature. Temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails and the body is unable to cool down.
The symptoms of heat stroke are as follows :

  • extremely high core temperature - up to 41°C (106°F)
  • hot, red, dry skin
  • rapid pulse
  • rapid, shallow breathing
  • headache
  • confusion, untypical behaviour
  • possible loss of consciousness

For further information on how to stay cool, or for other health advice, call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000.

August 2003

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