Protect your family from the increasing risk of heat-related illnesses.

Research has shown that our health, and our children’s health, is being directly and seriously impacted by our changing climate.

  • Extreme heat contributes to an average of 120 premature deaths each year in Toronto.9
  • Climate change is leading to more and more extreme heat days.10
  • In the near future (between 2021-2050), Toronto could see over 30 extreme heat days annually, and over 50 extreme heat days by 2080.11

Untreated, heat stroke can cause hospitalization – or worse.

We developed this campaign to give parents information and tools to protect their families and their communities. And we need your help.

Together, we can Make It Better.

Help protect children from the health impacts of climate change.

5 Steps you can take to protect your family. 

Heat illnesses are preventable. During extreme heat, the most important thing is to keep cool and hydrated.

Follow these five steps to protect your family and yourself in very hot weather:

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Step One

Prepare for the heat

Learn more
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Step Two

Pay close attention to how you – and those around you – feel

Learn more
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Step 3

Stay hydrated

Learn more
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Step 4

Stay cool

Learn more
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Step Five

Avoid exposure to extreme heat when outdoors

Learn more

7 Health Canada (2011). Communicating the Health Risks of Extreme Heat Events: Toolkit for Public Health and Emergency Management Officials. Retrieved from: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/environmental-workplace-health/reports-publications/climate-change-health/communicating-health-risks-extreme-heat-events-toolkit-public-health-emergency-management-officials-health-canada-2011.html

8 Toronto Public Health, Protecting Vulnerable People from Health Impacts of Extreme Heat. Toronto, Ontario: July 2011. Available at: http://www.toronto.ca/health/hphe

9 Toronto Public Health. (2011, July). Protecting Vulnerable People from Health Impacts of Extreme Heat. Retrieved from https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2011/hl/bgrd/backgroundfile-39468.pdf

10 Climate Atlas of Canada. (2018). Climate Change in Canada. Retrieved from https://climateatlas.ca/

11 Ibid

13 Gasmi, S., Ogden, N. H., Lindsay, L. R., Burns, S., Fleming, S., Badcock, J., … Koffi, J. K. (2017). Surveillance for Lyme disease in Canada: 2009-2015. Canada communicable disease report = Releve des maladies transmissibles au Canada43(10), 194–199.

17 Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion (Public Health Ontario). Blacklegged tick surveillance in Ontario: A systematic review. Toronto, ON: Queen’s Printer for Ontario; 2016.

Prepare for the heat

  • Tune in regularly to local weather forecasts and alerts so you know when to take extra care.
  • Arrange for regular visits by family members, neighbours or friends during very hot days in case you need help. Visitors can help identify signs of heat illness that could be missed over the phone.
  • Find ways to keep cool before the hot weather starts. If you have an air conditioner, make sure it works properly. If you have ceiling fans or other fans they can help as long as the humidity isn’t high. Find an air-conditioned spot close by where you can cool off for a few hours on very hot days. This will help you cope with the heat.
  • Have cool drinks in your vehicle and keep your gas tank topped up

Pay close attention to how you – and those around you – feel

  • Heat stroke is a medical emergency! Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately if you are caring for someone who has a high body temperature and is either unconscious, confused or has stopped sweating.
  • Watch for symptoms of heat illness, which include:
    • dizziness or fainting
    • nausea or vomiting
    • headache
    • rapid breathing and heartbeat
    • extreme thirst (dry mouth or sticky saliva)
    • decreased urination with unusually dark yellow urine
    • behaviour changes in children (like sleepiness or temper tantrums)
  • If you have any of these symptoms during extreme heat, move to a cool place and drink liquids right away. Water is best.
    • While waiting for help – cool the person right away by:
      • moving them to a cool place, if you can
      • applying cold water to large areas of their skin or clothing
      • fanning the person as much as possible

Stay hydrated

  • Drink plenty of cool liquids (especially water) before you feel thirsty to decrease your risk of dehydration (not having enough fluids in your body). Thirst is not a good indicator of dehydration.
    • Remind yourself to drink water by leaving a glass by the sink.
    • Flavouring water with natural fruit juice may make it more appealing.
    • Eat more fruits and vegetables as they have a high-water content.
    • If you eat less, you may need to drink more water.
    • Drink water before, during and after physical activity.

Stay cool

  • Your body is not used to (not acclimatized to) extreme heat at the beginning of the summer. If you are physically active, you are also not acclimatized if you don’t exercise regularly during hot weather.
  • Dress for the weather
    • Wear loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing and a wide-brimmed hat made of breathable fabric.
    • When you buy sunglasses, make sure they provide protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Take a break from the heat
    • If you must do physical activity in extreme heat, take extra breaks, remove gear to let your body cool off and drink lots of water. Don’t expect your usual performance in hot weather. Give your body time to recover after being in the heat.
  • Keep your home cool
    • Make meals that don’t need to be cooked in an oven.
    • Block the sun by closing awnings, curtains or blinds during the day.
    • If safe, open your windows at night to let cooler air into your home.
    • If you have an air conditioner with a thermostat, keep it set to the highest setting that is comfortable (somewhere between 22ºC/72ºF and 26ºC/79ºF). This will reduce your energy costs and provide you with needed relief. If you are using a window air conditioner, cool only one room where you can go for heat relief.
  • If your home is extremely hot
    • Take cool showers or baths until you feel refreshed.
    • Use a fan to help you stay cool and aim the air flow in your direction.
    • Spend a few hours in a cool place. It could be a tree-shaded area, swimming facility or an air-conditioned spot like a shopping mall, grocery store, or public library.

Avoid exposure to extreme heat when outdoors

  • Sunburned skin loses its sweating efficiency. This makes it harder for your body to regulate its temperature.
  • Never leave people or pets inside a parked vehicle or in direct sunlight.
    • When the outside air temperature is 23ºC/73ºF, the temperature inside a vehicle can be extremely dangerous – more than 50ºC/122ºF.
  • Reschedule or plan outdoor activities during cooler parts of the day.
    • Before heading out, check the Air Quality Health Index  in your area, if available. Air pollution tends to be at higher levels during very hot days.
    • Plan strenuous outdoor activities for cooler days or choose a cooler location like a place with air conditioning or with tree shade.
  • Avoid sun exposure. Find or bring shade when possible
    • Tree-shaded areas can be as much as 5ºC/9ºF cooler than the surrounding area.
    • Shade yourself by wearing a wide-brimmed, breathable hat, or using an umbrella.
    • Wear loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing made of breathable fabric.
    • Wear sunglasses that have UVA and UVB protection.
    • Use a sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) 15 or higher and follow the manufacturer’s directions. Don’t use sunscreen on a child less than 6 months old.
  • Remember! Sunscreen will help protect against the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, but not from the heat.

Copied with permission from: Health Canada

Extra Tips

  • Arranging for regular visits by family members, neighbours or friends during very hot days is especially important, particularly if you live alone and might need assistance accessing help.
  • The City of Toronto recommends the following tips for using fans properly:
    • Place fans in or next to a window to bring in the cooler air from outside
    • Do not use fans when the temperature in a room is 34°C or higher as it creates a “convection oven” type of effect. This is especially a concern for older adults and people taking certain medications since their ability to sweat is decreased.