Montrealers have been trying to find ways to keep cool during a spring heatwave in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Temperatures soared to 30 C in many parts of the city on Wednesday.
“This is just the first of several heat waves that we’re probably going to experience in the summer,” said Dr. Antonio D’Angelo, Head of Emergency at Sainte-Justine hospital.
Some parents felt relieved as they got to bring their children to air-conditioned public spaces and splash pads that opened up on Tuesday following public health recommendations.
“It’s really hot and there (aren’t) many things to do,” said parent Bracha Paris.
Extreme heat can be especially dangerous for children under the age of five as they’re among the most at-risk for heat-realted injuries.
After being isolated at home for a few months due to the pandemic, experts are reminding everyone to be careful.
“It’s really important for children to (stay hydrated). Parents should try to avoid the extreme heat if possible, especially with the very young children,” said Dr. D’Angelo.
He also warns parents to be careful not to overdress children.
“Some parents have this mistaken impression that little babies need a lot of warmth so they bundle them.”
But that can cause little ones to overheat. Dr. D’Angelo suggests dressing children in loose clothing and protective gear against the harmful sun rays such as a hat that covers above the eyes, nose and ears.
On Tuesday, Montreal Public Health authorities reminded residents of things they can do to protect themselves.
“(Spend) some time in a cool room room, (take cold) showers or baths (and) reduce physical activities,” said Montreal Public Health Director Mylène Drouin.
The city’s website proposes tips on how to stay safe from the heat and the symptoms to watch out for, such as exhaustion, dehydration, headaches, dizziness, confusion or fainting.
It also includes a map of the city which lists air-conditioned public spaces, splash pads and their opening hours.
The 16 air conditioned spaces in Montreal include Maison de la culture Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie, Francis-Bouillon arena and Maison de la culture Jeanine Suto.
D’Angelo said if a child falls ill, parents shouldn’t be afraid to bring them to the emergency room.
“There’s no risk to the child in terms of (COVID-19). It’s safe to come to hospitals because we’ve zoned (them) into covid zones and non-covid zones,” said D’Angelo.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily better to keep a child indoors especially in extreme heat, unless it’s cooler indoors.”
Unlike the rest of Montreal, the West Island municipalities of Pointe-Claire and Kirkland have decided not to open up their water park installations during the summer-like heat, stressing safety concerns due to the ongoing pandemic.
Health authorities said there are many ways to stay cool outside, all while remaining safe from coronavirus.
— With files from Global’s Phil Carpenter and Brayden Jagger Haines
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