Learn about the health impacts of extreme heat events

  • Heat and your health
  • Who's at risk for illness during heat events
  • How to protect yourself and others from extreme heat
  • Resources

During an extreme heat event you may experience heat-related illness. Some heat related illnesses can be life-threatening.

  1. Heat and your health

    If you or the people you care for show signs of heat-related illness, take immediate action to start cooling down.

    Signs of mild to moderate heat-related illness

    • Headache
    • Nausea
    • Weakness
    • Irritability
    • Light-headed or dizziness
    • Disorientation
    • Thirst or dry mouth
    • Difficulty swallowing
    • Fatigue
    • Heat rash, heat swelling or heat cramps
    • Peeing less
    • Increased heart rate
    • Skin feels very warm and sweaty
    • Body temperature over 38°C (100°F)

    If you're unsure if you're experiencing a heat-related illness contact a health care provider or phone the Yukon HealthLine, 811. Mild to moderate heat illness can quickly become severe. If symptoms get worse, phone 911.

    Signs of severe heat-related illness

    • Severe nausea and vomiting.
    • Fainting or loss of consciousness
    • Confusion or disorientation
    • Difficulty speaking
    • Movement and coordination problems
    • Lack of energy
    • Not sweating
    • Hot and flushed skin or very pale skin
    • Not peeing or peeing very little
    • Rapid breathing, and faint and rapid heart rate
    • Body temperature greater than 39°C (102°F)

    Severe heat illness and heat stroke are medical emergencies. Phone 911 if you or someone you're caring for has signs or symptoms of severe heat-related illness.

    While waiting for help to arrive, cool the person by:

    • moving them to a cool place;
    • removing excess clothing; and
    • applying cold water, wet towels or ice packs around their body, especially their neck, armpits and groin.

    Heat and mental health

    When extreme heat lasts for several days it can affect a person's mental health. Look for signs of increased:

    • irritability;
    • psychological distress;
    • aggression;
    • violence; or
    • suicidal thoughts.

    Heat and wildfire smoke

    Extreme heat events often coincide with wildfire events. In an event where it's both hot and smokey, cooling should be prioritized. Find out more about wildfire smoke and heat.

    Learn about wildfire smoke.

  2. Who's at risk for illness during heat events

    Anyone can develop a heat-related illness when exposed to extreme heat. People who are more at risk are:

    • older adults;
    • infants and young children;
    • people who are pregnant;
    • people who work or exercise in hot environments;
    • people who are unhoused;
    • people with mental illness;
    • people who regularly use drugs and alcohol;
    • people with chronic illness; and
    • people who have impaired or decreased mobility.

    Health risks may be compounded for people with more than 1 risk factor. Some medications can make it hard for the body to regulate temperature. Talk with a pharmacist or health care provider to learn more.

  3. How to protect yourself and others from extreme heat

    Before a heat event

    • Gather supplies to make an extreme heat kit:
      • bottled water;
      • cups;
      • large basins or water jugs;
      • ice packs and ice;
      • plastic bags;
      • towels;
      • misting bottles;
      • tin foil;
      • take-home Naloxone kit;
      • first-aid supplies;
      • lightweight clothing;
      • sunscreen; and
      • indoor and body thermometres.
    • Identify people at higher risk.
    • Learn how to recognize the signs of heat-related illness.
    • Ask a health professional how medications or health conditions can affect your risk in the heat.
    • Identify locations in your community where you can get cool.

    During a heat event

    There are many actions you can take to protect yourself during a heat event. The following list includes some ideas.

    • Tune in to local weather forecasts and alerts so you know when to take extra care.
    • Take regularly scheduled breaks in a cool place, especially if you work outdoors.
    • Plan any outdoor activities for cooler parts of the day.
    • When possible, avoid sun exposure.
    • Wear loose-fitting and lightweight clothing, and a wide-brimmed hat.
    • Drink plenty of cool liquids before you feel thirsty to decrease your risk of dehydration.
    • Never leave people or pets inside a parked vehicle.
    • Seek a cool place such as, a tree-shaded area, cool shower or bath, or an air-conditioned public building, if it exists in your community.
    • Make meals that do not need to be cooked in an oven.
    • Close windows and curtains during the hottest part of the day.
    • If possible, open your windows at night to let cooler air into your home.

    Heath checks during extreme heat events

    Checking on others when it's hot is one way to prevent against the health effects of extreme heat. Regular check-ins can be especially important for people who are susceptible to the effects of heat.

    Not everyone knows who's most at risk, how to recognize heat-related illness or what to do in risky situations. Use this tool from the National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health (NCCEH) to help you do a heat check.

    Heat warnings

    We issue heat warnings for the Yukon when:

    • 2 or more consecutive days of daytime maximum temperatures are expected to reach 28°C (82°F) or warmer; and
    • the nighttime minimum temperatures are expected to remain 13°C (55°F) or warmer.

    Find out if there are any current heat alerts in the territory.