With Environment Canada forecasting 30-plus temperatures for the next seven days along with publishing a heat warning, Public Health Sudbury and Districts (PHSD) is advising city residents to take precautions. In previous years, one common piece of advice was to encourage people to head for cooling centres such as public libraries or shopping centres. Things have changed because of COVID-19.
"Due to requirements for physical distancing and limits on gathering, for many people, going to air-conditioned public places for relief from the heat is not the safest direction," said Jane Mantyla, a health promoter with the Health Protection Division of PHSD.
Mantyla said there are things people can do to keep cool.
"Better advice right now would be to take a cool bath or shower, close windows and blinds during the hottest parts of the day, and place ice-cubes in front of a fan (this actually cools the air that blows onto your skin)," said Mantyla.
"As well, placing a wet towel or cloth on the skin can help your body cool down, particularly on the back of the neck. This can work for anyone, if it’s hot at home, or, for example, if you are required to work or spend time outdoors during the heat," she added.
Mantyla also had words of warning that the heat can take a toll with various heat-related illnesses such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat fainting, heat edema (swelling of hands, feet and ankles), heat rash, heat cramps (muscle cramps), and even death. The health unit said people who are most at risk include older adults, infants and young children, pregnant women, people with chronic illnesses, people who are homeless, people who use alcohol or illicit drugs, and those who work or exercise in the heat.
"Heat illness can occur in minutes," said Mantyla. "It doesn’t necessarily take hours of exposure to come about. Knowing the symptoms of heat illness is key. If you are feeling unusually tired or faint, experiencing headache, muscle aches, nausea or rapid heart rate, take a break right away and use a strategy to cool down. Heat illness can be a medical emergency. If a person seems to be losing consciousness, call 911 immediately, move them to a cool place if you can, talk to them, and do your best to gradually cool them down until help arrives," she added.
Staying hydrated is also imported she said.
"Don't rely on feeling thirsty to have a drink of water," Mantyla advised.
Another important thing is being neighbourly.
"We can watch out for each other during heat waves, too. While maintaining physical distancing, check on neighbours, family and friends to see if they are hydrated and cool. Especially people who are chronically ill, as they may be at higher risk of heat illness," Mantyla advised.
As for public spaces that may be open or closed, such as public beaches and splash pads, she recommended checking in with the City of Greater Sudbury.