This past weekend brought with it sweltering temperatures reaching nearly 40 degrees in some parts of the Maritimes. While some may welcome warmer temperatures, the high heat and humidity also raise the risk of exhaustion and heatstroke. However, there are ways in which Maritimers can protect themselves from the detrimental effects of the unusually hot summer weather.

According to St. John Ambulance instructor, JC Latour, there are precautions everyone can take, in addition to avoiding hot areas. He suggests wearing light clothing, drinking plenty of water and not over-exercising.

“Check what kind of activity you want to do during the day, at what time of the day,” says Latour. “You may not want to do exercise in the middle of the day when it’s too warm.”

In addition to Latour’s advice, Dr. Chris Sampson recommends the TACO (Tarp assisted cooling with oscillation) method.

“By oscillation and moving that tarp back and forth and having that cold water get in contact with all portions of [their] your body, you are able to get the heat off them in a more rapid fashion,” says Sampson.

However, it’s not just people who experience the strain of uncomfortably hot summer temperatures -- pets are also prone to adverse health effects brought on by the heat.

“Animals outside must have access to water, and it’s a good idea to have access to shade as well,” says veterinarian, Eric Carnegy. “Go out and leave your hand on pavement or asphalt for ten seconds -- if it’s uncomfortable, don’t walk your dog on it.”

Carnegy notes heat exposure can kill an animal in mere minutes, but maintaining a safe and cool environment for them takes very little effort.

Despite efforts to keep cool, heat-related emergency doctor visits rose to around eight during the weekend according to the Nova Scotia Health Authority, which accounted for five per cent of overall visits -- more than they typically report.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Paul Hollingsworth