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July 3, 2003
Heat Alert issued for Toronto
The Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Sheela Basrur, has issued a heat alert for
today, Thursday, July 3. The heat alert will most likely be extended tomorrow
and through Saturday.

The public is advised to "Beat the Heat" by taking these precautions:
· Drink lots of water and natural fruit juices
· Stay out of the blazing sun or heat
· Avoid strenuous physical activity outdoors
· Go to places that are air conditioned, including shopping malls and libraries
· Never leave children and pets unattended in a car

During a Heat Alert the public is encouraged to call or visit friends and
neighbours who are at risk of suffering health consequences because of hot

People at greatest risk include the elderly, infants and young children, the
chronically ill and those taking medications. If you are taking any medication,
especially psychiatric drugs, you may be at higher risk for heat-related
illness and should ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist about extra precautions
to take during extremely hot weather.

Signs of heat illness include rapid breathing, headache, weakness or fainting,
confusion, and more tiredness than usual.

The most severe health effect of heat is heat stroke, when the body temperature
is greater than 40.6 degrees Celsius, with no sweating, and altered
consciousness or coma. Anyone who has difficulty breathing or feels confused or
disoriented should seek medical attention immediately.

During a Heat Alert, a Hot Weather Response Plan is activated. It includes the
· Community Information Toronto will contact more than 900 community agencies
working with vulnerable populations, such as elderly and isolated seniors and
the homeless, to advise them of extra precautions to take during a heat alert.
· Community Information Toronto will provide transportation to a cool place
when needed.
· Red Cross will operate an information line from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. to answer
heat-related inquires from the public and respond to requests to check on those
at risk.
· Red Cross will co-ordinate delivery of bottled water to agencies where
vulnerable people may gather.

During a heat alert, people can call the Red Cross HEAT INFORMATION LINE at

Media contacts:
Toronto Public Health: Susan Sperling, 416-338-7974
Emergency Medical Services: Alexis Silverman, 416-338-2151
Canadian Red Cross: Laura Byers, 416-480-0195, ext. 2253



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