National Indigenous Peoples Day signifies change in many ways, in particular it marks the changing of seasons. Summer is here and with it rising temperatures.
Environment and Climate Change Canada has issued special weather statements for several regions in the province. In response, the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) has identified health and wellness tips for BC First Nations Communities.
Although this is not a heat warning or an extreme heat emergency, many British Columbians will experience the first high temperatures of the summer after a colder-than-usual spring. Here are some basic steps people can take to stay safe as the temperature rises.
Identify who is most at risk.
It's important to identify which people in your family or community might be most vulnerable to the harms of warmer weather.
Individuals most sensitive to heat may include Elders, infants and young children, and people who are either pregnant, have pre-existing health conditions and/or live alone.
Monitor yourself and family members, and consider developing a check-in system for neighbours, community members and friends who are at higher risk during warmer weather.
To effectively monitor yourself and your loved ones, it's important to know the various signs and symptoms of heat-related illness, which can range from mild to severe.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, headaches, muscle cramps, nausea and vomiting, dizziness and dark yellow urine.
Heat stroke is a medical emergency. High body temperature, fainting, hot dry red skin, severe headache, seizures and unconsciousness can be life-threatening and require urgent medical attention. Call 911 if you or a loved one shows any of these symptoms.
The best way to avoid heat-related illness is to plan for the heat ahead of time.
If you don't have air conditioning at home, consider spending time in cooler locations such as shaded parks, basements, bodies of water or air-conditioned buildings like cooling centres, community centres, libraries and even movie theatres. Contact your local Friendship Centre or Band Office to see if they have or know of a cooling centre nearby.
Other ways to prepare for the heat include wearing light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing, planning outdoor activities before 11 a.m. or after 4 p.m. to avoid the most intense sun, shutting windows and closing curtains or blinds to block the sun and prevent hotter outdoor air from coming inside. Later, when it's cooler in the evening, you can open windows and doors to move cool air inside.
The warmer weather is expected to cause rapid snow melt across the province, which may result in rivers and streams overflowing. Emergency response or even evacuations may be warranted in some situations. Be aware that fast-moving water may pose a risk for drowning.
To keep cool, consider visiting other sources of water like a lake or the ocean, as rivers in your community may be affected by rapid snow melt.
These tips are important to consider for this upcoming weekend, but remain helpful beyond this weekend. Summer is here, so now is a good time to start implementing these health and wellness tips into your daily life.