Editor’s note: This story has been changed while Global verifies details of an earlier report. The updated story is below.
Heatstroke is typically associated with being outdoors in the summer, but there’s a risk of the potentially life-threatening condition occurring while you’re indoors, too.
Indoor temperatures can get just as hot — or hotter — than outside, and young children under age two as well as adults over the age of 50 are more at risk for heat stroke, Beverly Lafortune, vice-president of training and community services at the St. John Ambulance Alberta Council, explained.
“Houses are usually better shaded with window coverings, have better climate control, have less number of windows per square foot, etc. Yes, indoor temperatures can meet and exceed outdoor temperatures, but this all depends on the sizes of space being compared and whether or not there’s any ventilation,” she explained, adding the organization doesn’t differentiate between indoor and outdoor heatstroke.
“Typically, heatstroke is classified as ‘classic’ or ‘exertional’,” she tells Global News. “Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition where the body’s temperature rises far above normal. It is caused by prolonged exposure in a hot, humid, and perhaps poorly ventilated environment.”
A classic heatstroke is when the body’s temperature control mechanism fails and rises rapidly and sweating stops, she continued. Exertional heatstroke is when the body temperature rises because of physical exertion in high humidity, causing excessive sweating.
“Without immediate first aid, heatstroke can result in permanent brain damage or death,” says Lafortune, adding the reason why toddlers and adults over age 50 are most at risk.
“Their bodies heat up and cool down faster, tend to dehydrate more quickly, and for older adults, they may have other health conditions that compound the situation.”
Lafortune says there are several things parents can do to ensure their homes and children are cool for the summer:
In hot temperatures:
- Make sure everyone is well hydrated, whether indoors or outdoors
- When outdoors, avoid direct sun and physical exertion
- Dress lightly, wear a hat and seek shady areas frequently
- Cool damp cloths can be used to keep children from overheating
- Encourage play in a cool environment (e.g. basement)
- Cool baths can also provide some relief as well as wading pools and sprinklers
During sleeping hours:
- Check the room for ventilation
- Use fans
- Close blinds or drapes
- Leave the door to the room open
- Check on sleeping children frequently
- Limit blankets and clothing
And no, this doesn’t mean you necessarily have to invest in air conditioning. “Fans can also be helpful. The temperature of rooms depends on many factors including the room size, location, and whether proper window coverings are being used,” she explains.