The brisk nights at the hockey arena with trucks being started by remote before the end of the third period feel far away right now, as southwest Saskatchewan is in the middle of a heat wave.

Nighttime lows have been bearable, in the mid-teens often, but the daytime highs are going to stay lofty through the weekend, meaning there are risks to public health.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority's consulting medical health officer, Dr. David Torr, said with the weekend coming up, the consumption of alcohol is a greater threat to cause dehydration.

Highs today through Saturday are expected to be in the high 30s, and possibly touch the 40-degree mark, which can cause problems.

People with medical conditions, as well as very young people and the elderly are more susceptible to things like heat stroke, but Torr advises all people take precaution with this weather.

"With the heat there's also intensity of sunlight, so it's important to check the UV factor as well, and when you're outside use the appropriate sunscreen," Torr said. "But it's key not to spend too much continuous time under direct sunlight when it's really hot, so the shade is good and what you wear, and wide-brimmed hats are useful to reduce the amount of heat and exposure to it through sunlight."

He added that wearing light-coloured and light-weight, loose-fitting clothing is wise.

And while drinking cold water is certainly good, warm beverages that don't have alcohol or much caffeine can have a positive effect too.

"The thing is if you take a warmer drink - like say a tea - it'll actually induce more sweating, or your sweating mechanism will really go to work much faster - so with that the sweating mechanism is designed to cool the body much faster. But a cool drink might deceive the body, so to speak, into thinking it's cooling down on its own, but it may not be enough to totally cool you down. But of course most people would prefer to take something cold, as taking something warm when it's really hot is not always the most-comforting thing for most people. The key thing is get out of that direct heat, into shade and indoors, that really will help you cool down as well."

While Swift Current wasn't issued an air-quality statement by Environment Canada, there has been some smoke in the air from wildfires to the west.

When that does crop up, Torr said it can be tough on people with pre-existing conditions, depending on how the air is.

"Some of that can have an effect, especially if somebody has a respiratory predisposition - a condition which limits their respiration, things like asthma or chronic obstructive pulminary disease - it's definitely advisable when you detect that kind of challenge out with the air and the air quality to spend time indoors, and much less hours outdoors. And at the same time, even it's mild, you've got to avoid strenuous exercise because that can enhance it. Especially for the elderly and children and those with respiratory or even cardiac conditions, caution is well advised."

Torr recommends people close their windows if it's a moderate or severe air-quality issue and use air conditioning that recirculates (so it doesn't take in air from outside). He said if it is hot out with a moderate of severe air-quality warning, it's better to go to a place with air conditioning that recirculates rather than opening the windows.

As of last night, there was a 'moderate risk' according to Environment Canada on the Air Quality Health Index for today in Swift Current. You can click here for more information.

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