Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, and Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, have issued the following statement on prolonged heat warnings throughout B.C.:
“As we head into the B.C. Day long weekend, we are seeing prolonged hot temperatures in many parts of the province with minimal overnight cooling. We encourage everyone to remain mindful that high indoor temperatures can be dangerous to vulnerable people and those more susceptible to heat-related illness, and to regularly check in on them.
“The people most susceptible to heat-related illness are older adults, those with disabilities, those with mental illness, and those with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease. All of these people are at higher risk if they live alone or are socially isolated.
“The prolonged heat throughout B.C. this weekend means extra care is needed both indoors and outdoors, especially for workers and others doing strenuous activity. Anyone working outdoors should take regular breaks and seek cool settings as frequently as possible. Employers are encouraged to help make sure this is possible.
“To help people deal with the extended heat, many communities have opened cooling centres and misting stations. Residents are encouraged to check with their municipality, regional district or First Nation for the most up-to-date information.
“Just as it is important to keep yourself cool this weekend, it is also important to check in frequently with people who are at higher risk, especially if they live alone. Check in at least twice per day, and once during the evening hours when it is hottest indoors. Help them find an air-conditioned space if possible. Encourage those who may not know they are at higher risk to take cool baths, sleep in the coolest room or stay with friends.
“If you have air conditioning and higher-risk members of your family do not, bring them to your house. Never leave children, dependent adults or pets alone in a parked car even for a short period of time. Leaving windows open will not help.
“Everyone is reminded to drink plenty of water and other liquids to stay hydrated, even if you are not thirsty. Spray your body with water, wear a damp shirt, take a cool shower or bath, or sit with part of your body in water to cool down.
“Keep your indoor environment as cool as possible. Use air conditioning if you have it. Close blinds and curtains during the day to keep the sun out, and close the windows when it is hotter outside than inside to trap the cooler air indoors. Open windows and doors during the late evening and early morning hours to bring as much cooler air as possible inside. Identify a cooler space in your home and prepare it so you can stay there at night, if possible.
“Anyone feeling unwell in the heat should take immediate action to cool down. Signs of overheating include feeling unwell, headache and dizziness. Overheating can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. It is important to take it easy, especially during the hottest hours of the day, stay in the shade as much as possible, and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.
“You can call HealthLinkBC at 811 and speak with a nurse or go to an urgent-care centre or clinic if you can do so safely. That way, emergency medical dispatch staff and paramedics will be available for people who need their services the most.”
For information about preparing for heat events, including who is at higher risk from the heat, visit: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/prevention-public-health/preparing-for-heat-events
For online tools, including a “check your symptoms” tool, visit: healthlinkbc.ca
Environment and Climate Change Canada’s weather alerts: https://weather.gc.ca/warnings/index_e.html?prov=bc
For more information about the National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health’s health checks during extreme heat, visit: https://ncceh.ca/documents/guide/health-checks-during-extreme-heat-events