Important Health Advice During BC’s Heat Advisory



The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) is advising people to take extra precautions during the prolonged heat wave across our province beginning Friday, June 25 and expected to last until Tuesday, June 29. 

The FNHA's Office of the Chief Medical Officer is advising that prolonged exposure to excessive heat can result in severe illness and death. Excessive heat exposure can lead to weakness, disorientation and exhaustion. In severe cases, it can also lead to heat stroke, also known as sunstroke. Heat stroke can be a life-threatening medical emergency. Fortunately, it can almost always be prevented. 

The best way for everyone to prevent adverse health effects associated with hot weather is to stay in or seek cooler spaces in order to ensure that municipalities and health authorities are prepared for the public health risks posed by extreme heat. 

Who is most at risk?

Anyone can suffer from heat-related illness, but some people are at greater risk. Please take extra care to check on family members, neighbours and others in the community:

  • Infants and young children, who rely on adults to monitor their environments and to provide them with enough fluid to drink;
  • People 65 years or older, or anyone who needs assistance monitoring their wellbeing;
  • People with heart problems and breathing difficulties;
  • People who exercise or who work outside or in a hot environment.

Some medical conditions may also increase risk such as uncontrolled diabetes or blood pressure, overweight, kidney failure, heart failure, or on medications such as water pills and certain psychiatric medications. 

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of heat-related illness can range from mild to severe. They include:

  • Pale, cool, moist skin
  • Heavy sweating
  • Muscle cramps
  • Rash
  • Swelling, especially hands and feet
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Light headedness and/or fainting
  • Headache
  • Nausea and/or vomiting

High fever, hallucinations, seizures and unconsciousness can be life threatening and require urgent medical attention. Call 911, move to a cool place, and cool the person with water and fanning. 

How to prevent heat-related illness

  1. Plan your outdoor activity before 11 a.m. or after 4 p.m., to avoid the most intense sun. 
  2. Drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids. Water is the best choice. 
  3. Avoid physical work or exercise outside in the heat of the day. 
  4. If you must work or exercise outside, drink two to four cups of water each hour, even before you feel thirsty. 
  5. Rest breaks are important and should be taken in the shade. 
  6. Apply sunscreen to prevent sunburn, but remember this will not protect you from the heat. 
  7. Stay in the shade, or create your own shade with lightweight, light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing, a wide brimmed hat, and/or an umbrella. 
  8. If you’re struggling to keep cool, move indoors to an air-conditioned building or take a cool bath or shower. At temperatures above 30° C (86°F), fans alone may not be able to prevent heat-related illness. 
  9. Never leave children or pets alone in a parked car. Temperatures can rise to 52° C (125° F) within 20minutes inside a vehicle when the outside temperature is 34° C (93° F). Leaving the car windows open will not keep the inside of the vehicle at a safe temperature. 
  10. Regularly check older adults, infants and children, those doing a lot of physical activity or working outside, and people with chronic disease or mental illness for signs of heat-related illness. Make sure they are keeping cool and drinking plenty of fluids. Check on those who are unable to leave their homes, and people whose judgment may be impaired.

Cooling centres 

Many First Nations and other communities are setting up cooling centres which you are encouraged to use if available and you cannot stay cool enough at home. It is important to note that prolonged exposure to hot weather is a bigger health risk than the current COVID-19 exposure risk over the next week. Using masks and two meters distance with people who are not part of your household is recommended if you are in cooling centres. However, it is fine to remove your mask and catch your breath if you are having difficulty breathing in a mask. No one should be denied entry to a cooling centre for not wearing a mask. 

Resources Links

Heat-related Illness - Health Link BC:

Fact Sheet: Staying Healthy in the Heat - Government of Canada:

BC CDC Guidance for Community Cooling Centres During B.C.’s Restart Plan:​

Environment and Climate Change Canada Forecasts:

Environment and Climate Change Canada Special Weather Statements/Warnings:

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