With the return of the heat to the southeast, medical professionals are reminding everyone to take precautions when it comes to heat-related illnesses.  

Dr. Stanley Enebeli is the Medical Health Officer with the Saskatchewan Health Authority for the Weyburn and Estevan areas. He noted those who have chronic medical conditions, infants, the elderly, and those who work outdoors are at a greater risk of developing heat illnesses, which can take many different forms.  

“We could have things like skin irritation, which is heat rash, more commonly,” Enebeli described. “We could also have things like muscle cramps, heat cramps, and swelling of the hands, feet, and ankles, which we call in the medical circles heat edema.” 

Then there are the more serious heat illnesses, which include heat fainting and heat exhaustion. There is also heat stroke, which Dr. Enebeli cautioned is a medical emergency.  

To prevent heat-related illnesses, Enebeli explained people can take precautions to help stay cool. The first thing he recommended is staying out of the heat, and out of the sun, especially during the peak hours of 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.  

“If you need to be outside, do wear appropriate sunscreen, put on a hat, sunglasses, and light, loose-fitting clothing,” the doctor suggested. “We want to avoid any extreme physical exertion and keep in the shade whenever possible. If you don’t have air conditioning at home, please know where to go.” 

Some of the places Dr. Enebeli recommended to go to cool down include leisure centres and libraries.  

“One thing I want to emphasize is please, never leave children or pets in cars unattended,” Dr. Enebeli added.  

Hydration is also important. For this, the doctor recommended cold water and cold drinks, while avoiding excess alcohol.  

“Eat cold foods,” he said. “Things like fruits with high water content are always a nice choice – watermelon comes to mind.” 

Dr. Enebeli also recommended people keep an eye out for each other. 

“Ensure that babies, children, elderly people, and pets are not left alone in stationary vehicles,” he said. “Check on the elderly, sick neighbours, family, or friends, every day during this heat wave.”