As temperatures soar and air quality levels drop, summertime can be a challenge, particularly for those people with ongoing respiratory problems such as asthma.

Smog, a real danger in summertime, is created when ground level ozone and emissions from vehicles and industry reacts with heat and sunlight. This chemical reaction creates a smoky, foggy atmosphere, hence the name smog.

And if you live in or around one of the country’s ‘Heat Zones’, temperatures can be dangerously high, making it even more difficult to breathe. ‘Heat Zones’ occur in urban areas where traffic is particularly heavy and there are no green spaces. Furthermore, heat absorbing asphalt and buildings can cause temperatures to rise even higher.

So what can you do to stay safe this summertime? First and foremost, stay hydrated. If you do have to go out when the heat is up, be sure to carry water with you. Second, avoid going out at certain times of the day. Temperatures and ozone levels are at their highest between 2 and 6pm, so if possible, try to stay indoors during this time. And finally, if you have asthma, ensure you carry your inhaler with you at all times.

Keep these suggestions in mind:

  • During the hottest hours of the day, stay inside. If possible stay inside an air-conditioned building. The hottest hours of the day are typically from mid morning to mid afternoon.
  • Dress lightly, and when sleeping, use lightweight, breathable covers.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol and beverages that are carbonated or contain caffeine when temperatures are high, as they can lead to dehydration.
  • Keep blinds and curtains closed from morning until the late afternoon to block extra direct heat from sunlight.
  • Move your exercise routine to early morning or later in the evening.
  • Never ever leave a person or a pet in the car in hot conditions while you run to do a quick errand. People and animals can succumb to heat exposure and death very quickly in a hot car. Cars can become overheated quickly and when overheated become like ovens. It’s never safe.
  • Properly supervise children during outdoor play, being sure to monitor them closely and frequently.
  • Seek medical care right away if you become nauseous, start vomiting or experience cramps.
  • Stay on the lowest level of your home.
  • Use a fan. Don’t place the fan directly in front of a window because it may push hot air in. Try placing the fan so that it blows in the room and out the window instead.
  • Use small appliances like slow cookers and tabletop grills rather than your traditional oven or stove to keep kitchen heat to a minimum.
  • Verify that seat belts and car seat restraints are not too hot before buckling yourself or anyone else into a car.