High heat and humidity set new temperature records in south west Quebec on Wednesday.

In Montreal, the mercury hit 32.2 C, which, with humidity, felt like 40 C. That temperature eclipsed a 32 C record, previously set in 1988.

Public health officials warning people to keep cool after Environment Canada issued a high heat and humidity warning for greater Montreal region, and parts of southern Quebec.

Hot temperatures are also in the forecast for Thursday.

The Montreal Public Health Department recommends that residents take precautions to stay healthy and cool during the heat wave.

Basic measures, such as spending time in air-conditioned spaces, drinking water and reducing physical activities will help the body adjust to high heat, said  epidemiologist Norman King.

Vulnerable populations at risk

King said elderly people suffering from chronic disease and people with mental health problems are at the highest risk for heat-related illness.

"During the French heat wave in 2003 many elderly people who lived on their own died prematurely," said King.

Public health officials are appealing to community groups and the population in general to lend a hand to vulnerable populations.

Lucie Tremblay, director of nursing at Donald Berman Maimonides Geriatric Centre in Côte-St-Luc, said elderly people don't feel the heat or thirst as much as younger adults.

"We have to remind them to drink a lot and make sure to bring them water throughout the day," she said.

Tremblay said elderly people living on their own should keep a jug beside them to see how much they drink during the day.

"Once you become a bit dehydrated, you may become confused," said Tremblay.

Schools lack air conditioning 

Several schools across Montreal lack air conditioning, including Pierre de Coubertin Elementary School in St-Léonard.

Principal Nick Katalifos said administrators at the school are taking several measures today to reduce the chance of heat-related illnesses among students.

He said the school is opening the majority of their windows, relaxing the uniform code, turning on fans in the classrooms and turning off all of the lights.