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Hot Weather and Breathing Safety in the Durham Region

Respiratory Therapy Technician, Jane Heath, shares with Lakeridge Health Foundation safety tips for those living with asthma during the hot, humid days of summer.

Welcome to the dog days of summer! The water parks are open, barbecues are out, and the kids are free from school. With all of the sunshine, somedays, the heat can be too much. Extreme heat conditions impact the way we breath. If you, or someone you love, is living with asthma, these severe weather changes can pose a danger to your health.

Jane Heath is a respiratory therapy technician at Lakeridge Health. Each summer, Jane sees the impact of extreme heat. As the air quality index numbers go up, so does the number of patients visiting the emergency room and the clinics at the Hospitals. As an RTT, Jane frequents multiple areas of the hospital to help patients experiencing difficulty breathing and she teaches her fellow staff.

“I’ve been in respiratory therapy for over thirty years,” says Jane. “At the Hospital, I work with anything related to breathing or breathing machines. I [also] teach the physicians, paramedics, therapists, critical care and emergency nurses. I love to teach!”

Recently, Environment Canada and Health Canada shared new air quality standards. The aim of the new standards is to improve poor outdoor air quality and maintain good outdoor air quality across Canada. For Jane, it is important to update Lakeridge Health staff on these initiatives and to keep updated on Canada’s Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) daily. The index is a scale designed to help Canadians understand what the air quality in their area means to their health.

“With the [AQHI] phone app, people in Durham can be aware of extreme heat conditions and how it may affect their breathing. Air quality affects everyone. In every city the AQHI is measured every hour. For us, our AQHI is taken at Durham College.”

Tips To Stay Safe In The Heat

  • Try to avoid going out in during especially hot times
  • Adjust your schedule to be active during the morning or evening
  • Take frequent rest breaks when it feels hot outside
  • Limit strenuous activity if possible
  • Drink lots of fluids
  • Use your phone to check the AQHI for your area. Levels 1-3 are safe, anything higher and you should consider limiting outdoor activities
  • Always bring your rescue medication with you

Each day, Jane supports multiple departments of the hospital. Her expertise is often required in the emergency room, and, in the NICU.

Her frequent visits to the ER make her an ideal coach for the Lakeridge Health Foundation’s annual Nightshift event!

Nightshift happens each spring and is North America’s first and only medical simulation challenge open to the public. Jane is a veteran Nightshift coach, and puts in a lot of time and effort to ensure the success of the event, and of her team.

“Lakeridge Health is our future. I really believe in the Lakeridge Health Foundation’s work and the generosity of people who choose to give back to the Hospital. It is our future, it keeps people well and when I retire, I hope to volunteer and canvas with the foundation to encourage people to give back to our Hospital. Unfortunately, we are all going to get sick one day and we need people to look after us. It is a part of life.”