Baby boy with sunscreen

Tips to staying safe in the sun and beat the heat.

It's important to exercise caution during hot weather. Everyone is at risk of heat related illness. Those most vulnerable to high temperatures include young children, the elderly who are housebound, those working or exercising in the heat, persons with chronic heart and lung conditions, persons with mental illness, and the homeless.

If you are taking medication, particularly for mental illness, heart disease or Alzheimer’s disease, ask your doctor or pharmacist whether it increases your health risk in the heat and follow their recommendations.

Tips to beat the heat

Keep cool

  • Spend at least several hours every day in an air-conditioned facility (such as a shopping centre, library, community centre or restaurant).
  • Use public splash pools, water parks or pools or take a cool bath or shower.
  • At high temperatures, fans alone are not effective. Applying cool water mist or wet towels to your body prior to sitting in front of a fan is a quick way to cool off.
  • Dress for the weather by wearing loose, lightweight clothing. Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
  • Keep your home cool. Open windows (ensuring children are not at risk of falling from them), close shades or blinds, use an air conditioner and prepare meals that do not require an oven.
  • Avoid sunburn, stay in the shade or use sunscreen with SPF 30 or more.
  • Avoid tiring work or exercise in the heat. If you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of non-alcoholic fluids each hour. Limit outdoor activity during the day to early morning and evening.

Stay hydrated

  • Drink cool, non-alcoholic beverages (preferably water) no matter what your activity level. Don’t wait until you are thirsty.
  • If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask about increasing the amount of water you can drink while the weather is hot.

Check on others

  • People living alone are at high risk of severe heat-related illness. Check in regularly with anyone who lives alone, particularly older people, those with mental illness and anyone else who is unable to leave their un-air conditioned homes, for signs of heat-related illness.
  • Ask whether people know how to prevent heat-related illness and are taking precautions.
  • If you find someone is unwell, move them to a cool shady spot, help them get hydrated and call for medical assistance if required.

Never leave children or pets alone in a parked car

Temperatures can rise to 52°C (125°F) within 20 minutes in an enclosed vehicle when the outside temperature is 34°C (93°F). Leaving the car windows slightly open or "cracked" will not keep the inside of the vehicle at a safe temperature.

Get informed

  • Listen to local news and weather channels.
  • For more information on heat-related illness, call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1.
  • Contact your local government to find out what services (such as air conditioned buildings and public splash parks) are available in your area.

Sun exposure

While many people think as long as they aren’t getting a sun burn, they aren’t damaging their skin, in fact even if your skin is tanning and not burning, daily exposure to sunlight adds up and over time can cause skin damage and even skin cancer. 

Skin damage caused by the sun adds up over time. Skin cells damaged by long-term, daily exposure to sunlight either die or repair themselves. If the damage is too severe, skin cancer can develop. The best way to lower the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer is to avoid long exposure to intense sunlight and practice sun safety. 

Sun safety tips

  • When possible, schedule outdoor activities in the morning or late afternoon/early evening.
  • Stay in the shade and out of the hot sun between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Look for places with lots of shade, such as a park with big trees. Take an umbrella or tent to the beach.
  • Cover up. If you are out in the sun during mid-day hours, wear long sleeves, loose-fitting long pants and a hat with a wide brim (baseball caps do not provide enough protection).
  • Wear sunglasses that provide UVA and UVB protection. They will provide protection against eye damage.
  • Use a sunscreen lotion or cream that is Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 15 or more. If you work outdoors or are planning to be outside most of the day, use one with SPF 30 or more.
  • Put sunscreen on your skin 20 minutes before you go out and reapply 20 minutes after being out in the sun to ensure even application and better protection.
  • Use sunscreen even on hazy or overcast days.
  • DO NOT apply sunscreen to babies under 6 months old. Babies should be kept out of the direct sun as much as possible.
  • NEVER use baby oil to protect children from the sun. It will NOT protect them.
  • Sunscreen can’t block all the sun’s rays. Use it along with shade, clothing and hats, not instead of them.
  • Don't forget your lips, ears and nose and the tops of your feet. These parts of your body burn easily.
  • Re-apply sunscreen after you go swimming or if you are sweating.