This weekend and early next week will bring record-breaking heat to many parts of BC, with temperatures soaring into the 30s and even low 40s. While we want everyone to enjoy the sunny weather, the sudden heat can cause heat related illnesses, particularly for the very young, elders, and those with certain medical conditions. And while vaccination rates are increasing, we still need to be careful because of COVID-19. This means we have to think ahead to stay healthy and safe.
Photo taken at the 2016 BC Elders Gathering
Here are a few recommendations to help Elders, children, families, and communities beat the heat, stay connected, and stay safe.
As Public Health measures continue to lift, continuing to wear a mask and staying physically apart from people outside of your household is still a wise choice to prevent COVID-19. Spending time with friends and family outside, while staying in the shade as much as possible can also allow connection while staying cool. And getting vaccinated will make being inside malls or other air-conditioned places much safer for you and for others.
Keep air circulating with fans in your home, use cool mists or showers, and spend time in cool, shady areas. Limit the time you spend in the direct sunlight. If possible, spend time in air-conditioned places.
Wear loose, light-weight clothing and a hat to keep sun off your face. Use sunscreen to avoid getting a sunburn.
Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink; thirst is one of the first signs of dehydration. Limit drinks with caffeine, alcohol, or lots of added sugar; these can cause further dehydration.
Minimize the time you spend doing exercise or hard work outdoors in the heat during peak hours. If you want to do wellness activities, do them early in the morning or later in the evening when it is cooler.
Look Out for Each Other
Check in or on-line with your Elders, neighbours, and other loved ones to make sure that everyone is doing fine. Make sure everyone knows the signs of heat exhaustion, which can include muscle cramps, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, or vomiting. If someone experiences these symptoms, move them immediately to cooler conditions, and have them rest and drink a cool beverage. Wear a mask and make sure you wash your hands before and after helping a loved one you do not live with. Make sure someone from their household can stay with them, and if they do not immediately feel better, seek medical attention.
Keep Yourself in Mind
Some people might take medications or have an illness where special care and attention is required in heat conditions. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned that a medication you take might increase your sensitivity to heat or if you are a person that should be taking extra caution.
Get Everyone Out of the Car
DO NOT leave your loved ones for any amount of time in a vehicle. All children, pets, Elders and family members should vacate the car when the car is parked. Leaving the window open a little bit, is NOT enough to make a difference.
Read, watch, or listen to the local news and weather channel for updates on weather and warnings. If you are concerned about heat-related illness, call BC's free health information line at 8-1-1 (not 9-1-1, unless it is an emergency).
Stay cool this weekend and have a safe and fun summer!
Environment and Climate Change Canada Forecasts: www.weather.gc.ca/forecast/canada/index_e.html?id=BC
Environment and Climate Change Canada Special Weather Statements/Warnings: www.weather.gc.ca/warnings/index_e.html?prov=bc
Environment and Climate Change Canada Weather Blog: www.avalanche.ca/weather
Environment and Climate Change Canada's Official WeatherCan App: https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/weather-general-tools-resources/weathercan.html
Pacific Storm Prediction Centre - Supervisor, Environment and Climate Change Canada: firstname.lastname@example.org