By Robert Tuomi
(WINDSOR, ON) – Windsor is included in a new report showcasing the steps local governments are taking to address the increasing risk of extreme heat events.
Relative to Canadian and Ontario populations, residents here are more prone to suffer a range of chronic diseases, like high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes, obesity, circulatory disease, and cancer, which increase the vulnerability to the health impacts of extreme hot days.
Released by the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) and Health Canada, one of the paper’s author, Peter Berry, talks of Windsor because it is the southernmost city in Canada and experiences some of the warmest summertime temperatures in the country, often above 30oC with average humidex values the highest in Canada.
More of these hot days are expected in the region, which Berry predicts could exacerbate the risk of heat-related illness and deaths, particularly among seniors, people with chronic illnesses, and other vulnerable groups.
“If people do not take protective measures in hot conditions, it can lead to skin rashes, cramps, dehydration, syncope (fainting), exhaustion, and heat stroke,” Berry cautioned. “In Windsor, there is a strong association between excess mortality and temperature; at approximately 29°C, excess mortality begins to increase as ambient temperatures increase.”
According to Berry, the region’s local health unit’s Heat Alert and Response System provides a method to determine heat-health vulnerability.
“It provides decision makers and the public with knowledge about existing vulnerabilities to these events and to future climate change conditions, along with the range of responses needed to reduce adverse health impacts,” Berry said.
The full report, which includes how 19 other Canadian communities are dealing with the new reality of hotter summers, can be downloaded for free in its entirety.