Heat Waves Are More Dangerous Up North

August 2, 2018

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It's not the heat, nor the humidity. It's the inability to cool off that's so dangerous!

So far this summer, 70 people in Canada have died from heat-related causes. The most vulnerable are the elderly, and those with pre-existing health conditions. And while there have been a number of record warm days across North America this year, including Chino, California which reached 120 degrees on July 6th, the temperature in Montreal when 34 people died between June 29th and July 7th, didn't get any warmer than 95 degrees.

And while more than half of them had underlying medical or mental conditions, the common factor was that none of them had air conditioning. Without air conditioning, homes can overheat, putting people at higher risk of heat stroke, where the body’s internal temperature reaches 104°F or higher.

Add cardiovascular problems like high blood pressure, where those afflicted often take medications that can dehydrate them, there's an even higher likelihood of heat stroke. High temperatures can also accelerate the formation of pollutants like ozone, which can inflame the lungs. And if the temperature doesn’t go low enough at night, people are unable to cool down enough to cope.