Kitchener-Waterloo

From splash pads to picnics in the shade, people share how they keep cool on hot summer days

People in downtown Kitchener and Victoria Park offer tips on how to stay cool on hot days. That's important, one doctor says, because heat-related illnesses can be very serious.

'I put water in the bucket and then I splash it on my head,' 5-year-old Mira Qaisi says

Three children pose for a photo. A playground with a bright red slide is seen in the background.
Beating the heat are (from left) Amir Almasri, 10, Mira Qaisi, 5, and Lilyan Almasri, 8, who sat in the shade in Kitchener's Victoria Park on Wednesday. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

With Waterloo region under a heat warning on Wednesday, Lilyan Almasri, 8, Mira Qaisi, 5, and Amir Almasri, 10, and their families found a shady spot between the playground and the splash pad in Victoria Park in Kitchener, Ont., to enjoy the afternoon.

To stay cool when it's hot, Lilyan says she likes to hit up the splash pad. She loves the buckets "because a lot of water just falls" for a big splash. She'd take a chocolate ice cream cone to cool off, too.

Amir, 10, likes to get a special cool drink from Tim Hortons called a Creamy Chill.

"It's like vanilla flavoured, it's cold and there's like cream on the top and they put sprinkles," he said, adding at the park, he enjoys getting out of the sun.

"What I like to do to keep cool, like, I'll sit down in the shade with my friends."

Like Lilyan, Mira Qaisi, 5, likes a cool treat when it's hot.

"I eat ice cream every day," she said. "I love strawberry the most."

She also likes going in the splash pad.

"I put water in the bucket and then I splash it on my head," she said with a giggle.

More hot days ahead

The heat warning is over and Environment Canada says cooler temperatures — a high of 26 C — are forecast for Thursday. With two months of summer to go, more hot days are likely ahead.

In fact, hot weather will make a quick return with 30 C forecast for Friday, and 28 C on Saturday.

Dr. Peter Lin, a medical columnist with CBC Radio, says it's important people take care of themselves and stay cool on those hot, hot days.

"Our body is like a car. So if it overheats, that's a bad thing," Lin said.

"Our little cells are burning fuel inside so they do create a lot of heat. We need to get rid of that heat so our skin acts like a big radiator. So we radiate the heat outward and the airflow comes across our skin, picks up the heat to keep us cool."

Dr. Peter Lin is a family doctor and frequent contributor to CBC. He says it's important people avoid heat-related illnesses because they can have serious consequences. (Samantha Lui/CBC)

But if the outside temperature is 40 C or higher, like what was seen in the United Kingdom this week, that's a problem, he says.

"The heat wants to come into us because we're actually cooler. And so now we're roasting like little chickens in an oven," he said.

"Our body is made up of a lot of proteins ... if we overheat and we reach a temperature inside our body of 41 degrees or more, those proteins start to break down."

Watch for signs, especially if working outside

Lin says it's important for people to be aware of the signs of heat-related illnesses. That can include feeling confused, then drowsy. People may have slurred speech and it may look as though they are having a stroke. Some people could even have a seizure.

"As a person suffering it, you won't even know it's happening because it's crept up on you and your brain is no longer able to tell. And so therefore the key is to protect yourself," Lin said.

That means picking appropriate times if you want to go for a walk, cycle or run for exercise or be outside for other activities. The better times are mornings or evenings. 

For people who work outside all day, Lin said some companies might shift the work hours to avoid the hottest parts of the day. If that's not possible, he recommends people wear loose clothing so the fabric doesn't cling to the skin, restricting airflow. Wearing light colours absorbs less energy from the sun.

He also says people should stand in the shade whenever possible and if there's no shade in the work area, use an umbrella to create shade.

Drinking water is also very important, Lin said. Avoid alcohol on the hottest days.

"If you're working outside, you might have to drink a lot of water, in which case we might have to think about replacing your salt as well, because when you sweat, you lose salt in the sweat as well, Lin said. 

"You might have to add in one of those sports drinks or electrolyte drinks to give you that salt component of it. But don't use too much of that because it has a lot of sugar in it."

Picnics and cool showers

Manshi Pandya and Karimeh Haddad, both of Waterloo, decided to enjoy their lunches at the colourful picnic tables on Gaukel Street Wednesday afternoon. They also offered some tips for staying cool.

Two women sit on opposite sides of a picnic table that has yellow seats and a blue table top.
Karimeh Haddad, left, and Manshi Pandya, both of Waterloo, took their lunches outside to sit at colourful picnic tables on Gaukel Street in downtown Kitchener on Wednesday. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Pandya says when she can't be inside a place with air conditioning on really hot days, she likes to head to the park.

"I'll just put a picnic blanket and sit under a tree. If not, I would run around the splash pad with water because I'm that person," she said.

Haddad says in her place, she keeps the blinds drawn to keep the sun out and on the evenings, she likes to sit on her balcony.

"It kind of gets cooler up there. I've got a lot of wind because I'm kind of up high," she said.

"Also, I love a cold shower."

LISTEN | People in Kitchener's Victoria Park share favourite ways to keep cool:

During the heat warning on Wednesday, CBC K-W reporter Kate Bueckert went to Victoria Park in Kitchener to talk to people about their favourite ways to keep cool.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kate Bueckert

Reporter/Editor

Kate has been covering issues affecting people in southern Ontario for more than 15 years. She currently works for CBC Kitchener-Waterloo. Email: kate.bueckert@cbc.ca

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