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HEAT

How to beat the Toronto heat and keep you — and your pets — refreshed

It's hot. And with the hot weather comes the possibility of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Mahnoor Yawar gives you a few tips on how to notice the symptoms and avoid any health risks in the warm months

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail (FILE)

If you only remember one thing in the sweltering heat, make it this: prevention is better than cure. That means to watch out for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke long before they become a problem.

Toronto remains under an Environment Canada-issued heat warning for Wednesday, as temperatures are expected to rise to 33 Celsius – but the added humidity will make it feel more like 41 Celsius. It doesn't get much better until Friday, when the daytime high is expected to drop to about 26 Celsius. A brief power outage earlier this morning in downtown Toronto didn't help those staying indoors, either.

The best way to beat the heat is to drink plenty of fluids, long before you feel thirsty. This reduces the risk of dehydration and keeps the body's temperature relatively stable. Try to limit the time you spend outdoors, and wear cool, light-coloured clothing. Alcohol and salty foods are notorious at draining the body of its essential fluids – try a refreshing frozen treat instead.

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Be extra careful if you're active or exercising during the day, especially outdoors. Aim to take a nice big gulp of cold water every 15 minutes on average, and try to get plenty of electrolytes. Wearing protective gear, like shin pads and helmets? Stay out of them as much as possible. Exertional heat stroke is one of the top three fatal conditions for athletes and trainers, so be mindful of your body's limits.

If you (or someone you know) starts to feel dizzy, with cramped muscles, or feel more tired and flushed than usual, beware of the earliest signs of heat illness. A quick cool shower, an ice pack or a large icy drink full of electrolytes will help combat most of these symptoms.

If that discomfort develops into the more worrying symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, such as nausea, headaches, or disorientation, don't panic. Move the person affected into an air-conditioned, well-ventilated area and loosen clothing. Try to get some fluids into them, or cover them in wet clothing so their body can cool down. Seek medical assistance as soon as possible.

As in all things relating to extreme heat, don't forget your furry companions – they have an extra layer of fur to contend with in these temperatures. The bigger the dog, the higher their core temperatures are – something to bear in mind as it heats up outside. Also, make sure they get plenty of water, and limit their walk times where you can.

Remember, don't overdo it if the heat makes you feel tired. Summer's all about having fun.

Look inside The Iceman, an ice distributor in Toronto

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