Heat stress

Extreme heat events (EHEs), commonly referred to as heat waves, involve high temperatures and may be combined with high humidity. EHEs are extended periods of extreme heat and are most common in the southern region of Canada, from May to September. Working during an EHE can affect the body’s ability to cool itself, which can lead to a variety of different types of heat disorders. If not recognized early enough, these heat disorders can develop into life-threatening conditions.

Ways to reduce discomfort and help remain cool during hot weather:

  • Gradually increase workloads with frequent breaks as the temperature increases. Give yourself time to acclimatize.
  • Stay hydrated, drink water more often.
  • Use a fan in your office.
  • Eat smaller, but more frequent meals or snacks.
  • Wear light clothing that permits the evaporation of sweat.
  • Schedule frequent rest periods, seek out shade or air conditioning during your break.
  • Encourage chilled beverages. Discourage caffeine.
  • Consider evaporative accessories (cooling neck wraps, headbands).
  • Some medications such as hypotensives, diuretics, sedatives, antidepressants and amphetamines decrease the body’s ability to cope with the heat.

If you have any concerns about the conditions in your work environment, please contact your supervisor or safety@viu.ca.

Additional Recourses

VIU Heat Stress Program 
Heat Stress Awareness Tool