Know the signs of heat illness, how to respond and who is most at-risk.

Signs of heat exhaustion

  • Skin rash
  • Heavy sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rapid breathing and heartbeat
  • Headache
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Muscle cramps
  • Extreme thirst
  • Dark urine and decreased urination

Anyone with these symptoms should be moved to a cool space, given plenty of water to drink, and cooled down with water applied to the skin (e.g. cold shower, submerging body or legs in a cool bath, wearing a wet shirt, applying damp towels to the skin).

Signs of heat stroke

  • High body temperature
  • Fainting or decreased consciousness
  • Confusion
  • Lack of coordination
  • Very hot and red skin

If you think someone might have heat stroke, call 9-1-1 or seek medical attention immediately. Submerge some or all of the body in cool water, remove clothes and apply wet towels.

Some individuals are at higher risk for heat-related illness, including:

  • Seniors aged 60 years or older. They may be particularly vulnerable if they are socially isolated, or live in older buildings without air conditioning
  • People who live alone
  • People with pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or respiratory disease
  • People taking certain medications*, including high blood pressure medicines, antidepressants, antipsychotics or anti-Parkinson’s agents.
  • People with mental illness such as schizophrenia, depression, or anxiety
  • People with substance use disorders
  • People with limited mobility, including those who are confined to bed, need assistance with daily living or who have sensory/cognitive impairment
  • People who are socially disadvantaged due to low income, being homeless or living alone
  • Newcomers to Canada
  • Occupational groups who work outdoors or who have increased physical strain
  • People who are physically active with increased physical strain with a reduced perception of risk
  • People who are pregnant
  • Infants and young children

*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.