Protect your lungs
- Pay attention for air quality and humidity (humidex) advisories.
- Look up your local air quality readings. You can find the latest local air quality forecasts and information on Environment Canada's website.
Know the signs
- Know the signs of heat stroke and when to see your doctor.
- Know the warning signs of a flare-up if you have COPD.
- On very hot, humid days, especially days that have high levels of air pollution or smog, stay indoors, preferably in a place that's cool and has clean air (no tobacco smoke or harsh scents).
- If your home is not air conditioned, go to an air-conditioned public space, like a recreation centre, public library or shopping mall.
- Keep your windows and doors closed to keep your house cool and keep pollutants out.
- Keep your curtains and blinds drawn to keep out the heat.
- Turn on fans.
- At night, if you don’t have air conditioning and there are low levels of air pollution outdoors, open your window to let the cooler air in.
- Make sure someone checks up on you if you are living alone.
- Take your medication as directed. Keep your rescue medicine (usually a blue puffer) with you at all times.
- Avoid strenuous activities and reduce the amount (or length of time) of exercises during these times.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Wear loose, cool, light-coloured clothing and a hat if you go outdoors.
- Avoid exercise, especially during the hottest time of the day (generally between 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM).
Heat and COPD
Your body is always working to maintain a normal body temperature. When you are exposed to extreme heat and humidity, your body must use extra energy to try and cool down. If you have COPD, you're already using much of your energy just to breathe. Your breathing can be affected if it gets too hot.
Signs of worsening COPD (a COPD "flare up") can include increased shortness of breath, as well as increased coughing and sputum (phlegm or mucus).
If you notice any of these symptoms, follow the advice in your COPD action plan. If you don't know what to do or if your symptoms are getting worse, call your doctor. If you can't reach your doctor, go to the hospital emergency department.
Questions? Call our Lung Health Information Line