Map of Simcoe Muskoka

Environment

Extreme Temperature

Climate change is leading to changing weather patterns and increasing temperatures. Climate change affects the number of extreme heat and cold events. Exposure to these heat and cold events can affect health outcomes, particularly for at-risk populations who experience health inequities based on biological, social, and environmental factors. To monitor the health impacts associated with extreme temperatures, this section presents data on emergency room visits related to extreme temperature thresholds.

Heat-related emergency room visits

With annual mean temperatures increasing, individuals who live in urban areas, work outdoors, or who are under-housed or are precariously housed are at greater risk of being exposed to extreme temperatures. Further, at-risk populations including children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those living with chronic illnesses may be sensitive to the impacts of extreme temperatures. The number of heat-related emergency room visits tends to be higher during years when daily temperatures reach or exceed the 30°C mark on 10 or more days. As temperatures continue to increase the number of heat-related emergency room visits may also increase.

The age-standardized rate of emergency room visits related to extreme heat across 2003 to 2018 varied from 7 (4.8, 9.9) visits per 100,000 population in 2004 to 24 (20.3, 28.7) visits per 100,000 population in 2018 across the summer months. The rate of heat-related emergency room visits was higher in years with more days above 30°C.

191126HeatEDVis2003to2018

The rate of heat-related emergency room visits was higher in youth (aged 10-19 years), adults (20-44 years), and older adults (75+ years). Males had a significantly higher rate of heat-related emergency room visits with an average of 19 (17.6, 20.3) visits per 100,000 population per year across 2003-2018, compared to 11 (9.9, 12.0) visits per 100,000 population among females.

191126HeatEDVisits_ASR_2003tp2018

191126HeatEDVisits_Sex_2003to2018

Cold-related emergency room visits

Mean winter temperatures are expected to rise, but there will still be the potential for extreme cold events, with the impacts being severe due to a lack of acclimatization to colder weather. Exposure to cold temperatures is associated with a number of health outcomes including increases in blood pressure, cholesterol, and other factors which can contribute to death from cardiovascular disease. Exposure to extreme cold temperatures can increase the risk of acquiring frostbite, hypothermia, and cardiovascular mortality.

The age-standardized rate of emergency room visits related to extreme cold across the 2003/2004 to 2017/2018 winters varied from 6.5 (4.3, 9.6) visits per 100,000 population in 2011/2012 to 25.3 (21.3, 30.0) visits per 100,000 population in the 2014/2015 winter. The rate of cold-related emergency room visits was less closely tied to the number of days with minimum temperatures below -30°C.

191126ColdEDVis2003to2018

Youth, aged 10-19 years, had significantly higher rates of emergency room visits related to cold exposures, with 22 (19.2, 25.3) visits per 100,000 population, compared to fewer than 15 visits per 100,000 population in all other age groups. Males also had significantly higher rates of emergency room visits related to extreme cold, with an average of 19.6 (18.2, 21.1) visits per 100,000 males compared to 7.8 (6.9, 8.7) visits per 100,000 females per year across the 2003/2004 to 2017/2018 winters.

191126ColdEDVisits_ASR_2003to2018

191126ColdEDVisits_Sex_2003to2018