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Exposure to Hot/Cold Temperatures

Exposure to Hot Temperatures

A combination of heat and high humidity can be hazardous to your health. Conditions during high heat and humidity have the potential to cause dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and in some cases death. Everyone is at risk from exposure to hot temperatures. The following groups are in greater danger of being affected including the elderly people with chronic illness or who take certain medications, infants and preschool children, people who participate in physical activity, and those who work outdoor for long periods of time and those without adequate housing. Prevent heat related illness by keeping cool, taking a cool shower, wearing light clothing and taking breaks in a cool place. Do not leave loved ones and pets in hot vehicles. Remember to drink plenty of water and that alcoholic or caffeinated drinks can lead to dehydration.

During a Heat Warning, the public is strongly encouraged to check on a neighbour or a friend who may have a greater risk of suffering negative health consequences from the heat and humidity. Use this guide: Health checks during extreme heat events: A guide for doing in-person or remote health checks. Check the resources below for information on heat related illness and how to protect yourself.

Emergency Cooling Centres can offer some cool and safe relief to those without air-conditioning at home. For more information visit the emergency cooling centres section of our website.


Heat Stroke Infographic

Exposure to Cold Temperatures

Cold weather can cause very serious health conditions and even death. Unprotected skin can freeze in as little as 10–30 minutes, and the risk of developing hypothermia is high. During very cold weather, everyone is at risk; however, people experiencing homelessness, the elderly, infants and children, people taking certain prescription medications, people with certain pre-existing health conditions, outdoor workers, winter activity enthusiasts, and people living in homes that are poorly insulated (without heat or power) are in greater danger. During extreme cold weather the Health Unit encourages the public to check on family members, neighbours, or friends who may be isolated, disabled, living alone, or without sufficient shelter and who maybe at greater risk of suffering cold weather-related injuries.

  • Wear layers of warm dry clothing including a hat, mitts, and clothing to block the wind.
  • Drink warm, non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages.
  • Cover exposed skin surfaces when outdoors.
  • Maintain a heated environment of around 20°C/68°F.
  • Check for local warming centres or shelters in your community.
  • Be aware of how your medications or health conditions may increase your risk.
  • Be aware of the early signs of frostbite and hypothermia.
  • Be aware of the dangers of using an oven or space heater as a heating device.
  • Keep a winter driving survival kit in your vehicle and be sure to check the weather and road conditions before you travel.
  • See our Emergency Safety Fact Sheets for important information, including Keeping Warm in an Unheated House during an Emergency.
  • Be aware of cold weather injuries: prevention, signs and symptoms, and first aid.
  • See the Health Canada wind chill index webpage for more information on how to protect yourself during extreme cold.