Protect yourself from the Okanagan sun
The Okanagan is known for its high heat and intense sun during the summer months. The UV Index from June to September reaches an average of 10. Without precautions, this can increase the risk of sunburn, dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
Here are some tips for keeping cool and staying safe during times of high UV index:
Stay cool outdoors
- Stay in the shade, avoiding direct sun mid-day
- Wear a hat and protective clothing
- Use sunscreen
- Wear UV-protective eyewear
- Seek cooler, breezier areas such as large parks near water and with lots of trees
- Stay hydrated. Drink water regularly, even more than you think you need. Don’t wait until you are thirsty.
- Take it slow with outdoor activities. Rest and relax often if you feel fatigued.
- Never leave children or pets alone in a parked car. Temperatures can rise rapidly in enclosed vehicles, becoming much hotter than the outdoor temperature.
Stay cool indoors
- Make your space as comfortable as possible
- Close blinds and shutters during the daytime and open them at night. Open windows at night to let in cooler air.
- If you have air conditioning, use it to take the edge off indoor heat
- If you don’t have air conditioning, take shelter in the coolest room in your home and use a fan. Blowing a fan across a pan of ice water can create a cool breeze.
- Take cool showers and mist yourself and your clothing with cool water to keep from overheating
- Stay hydrated by drinking water regularly, even more than you think you need.
- Check in regularly with vulnerable people by phone or video
What causes heat stress?
Being exposed to high temperatures can affect the body’s cooling system. If the body is unable to cool itself, heat stress can occur. If not recognized early, this can quickly develop into more serious and life-threatening conditions. Physical exertion and outdoor activities increase this risk if precautions are not taken.
What are the signs and symptoms?
As a person’s body heats up, they lose fluids and salt through sweat. As they dehydrate, they are less able to cool themselves down. People in a hot environment should be aware of these warning signs of heat stress:
- Excessive sweating
- If heat stress is not recognized and treated early, it can lead to heat disorders which have serious effects on the body
Heat Exhaustion vs Heat Stroke
Signs of progression from heat exhaustion into heatstroke should be considered a medical emergency. 911 should be called and first aid notified if signs of heat stroke are present. Heat disorders, other than heat stroke, such as heat stress and heat exhaustion, the individual can typically be moved to a cooler environment and drink fluids to recover.
Understand the different signs and symptoms by familiarizing yourself with the graphic below.
- UBC Heat Stress Awareness
- WorkSafe BC Heat Stress
- Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion Infographic Created by nursing students in 432 Capstone project. Course: NRSG432.