This report provides an overview of sun and heat safety in Windsor-Essex County (WEC) using data from emergency department (ED) visits, hospitalizations, and deaths. This data captures illnesses resulting from the direct effects of heat and sunlight, which include: any exposure to excessive natural heat or sunlight, heatstroke, sunstroke, heat cramp, heat syncope, and heat exhaustion. However, excessive exposure to heat and sunlight can contribute to other illnesses such as respiratory and cardiovascular events and skin cancer, which are not covered in this report. This report also uses data from the Rapid Risk Factor Surveillance System (RRFSS) to provide a summary of sun safety behaviours and community support for shade in outdoor public places.
Key findings from this report are summarized below:
- There were 2 heat warnings and 5 extended heat warnings issued for WEC in 2016; these warnings covered a total of 21 days.
- 46.1% of WEC residents said they take extra precautions when a heat advisory/warning is in effect.
- WEC adults (20-44 year-olds) had the greatest rate of heat-related ED visits and were significantly less likely to avoid the sun or wear protective clothing.
- Kingsville and Leamington had the greatest rates of ED visits for illness caused by the direct effects of sun and heat; although, over half of all heat-related ED visits were among Windsor residents.
- Males account for 3 in 4 heat-related hospitalizations in WEC.
- During the ten-year period of 2002-2011, there was one death in WEC due to the direct effects of heat and/or sunlight.
- Among WEC adults: 94.0% said it is important to have shaded areas in outdoor public places; 30.3% had a sunburn in the past 12 months; and 69.7% do not use sunscreen often or always.