Summer heat is on its way, and with it comes a gentle reminder to stay safe amidst all that sunshine.
Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) has issued special weather statements for much of the province, including the South Coast.
In Metro Vancouver, daytime highs are expected to reach the low 30s, and these warmer-than-average temperatures come with potential hazards. Inland areas will get hotter, while Vancouver stays a bit cooler by comparison, as per the official ECCC forecast for Vancouver:
But after months of cooler-than-usual temperatures, the sudden change could shock you, and Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) shared a bulletin on Friday, June 24, reminding folks to prepare for the summer weather.
“The first high temperatures of the season can lead to some people overheating because they are not yet acclimatized to warmer weather,” said VCH.
Luckily, overnight temperatures are expected to drop to the “mid-teens,” so there will be relief from the heat at night.
This is not a heat warning, nor is it an extreme heat emergency like BC experienced last summer, and the sudden swing in temperatures could catch you off-guard if you’re not prepared.
Here are VCH’s tips for preparing for summer weather:
How to prepare for hot weather:
- If you do not have air conditioning at home, find an air-conditioned spot close by where you can cool off on hot days. Consider places in your community to spend time such as movie theatres, libraries, community centres, or shopping malls.
- Check that you have a working fan. If you have an air conditioner, make sure it works.
- Shut windows and close curtains or blinds during the day’s heat to block the sun and prevent hotter outdoor air from coming inside. Open doors and windows when it is cooler outside to move that cooler air indoors.
Who is at risk in the Vancouver heat?
Monitor yourself and your family during warmer weather and look out for higher-risk people in your community, including:
- Older adults, especially those over 60.
- People who live alone.
- People with pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or respiratory disease.
- People with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, depression, or anxiety
- People with substance use disorders.
- People with limited mobility.
- People who are marginally housed.
- People who work in hot environments.
- People who are pregnant.
- Infants and young children.
How to stay healthy in the Vancouver heat
- Spray your body down with water, wear a damp shirt, take a cool shower or bath, or sit with part of your body in water to cool down if you are feeling too hot.
- Drink plenty of water and other liquids to stay hydrated, even if you are not feeling thirsty.
- Take it easy, especially during the hottest hours of the day.
- Stay in the shade or use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or more.
- Signs of overheating include feeling unwell, headache, and dizziness. Take immediate action to cool down if you are overheating.
- It is important to remember that overheating can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
- Signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, severe headache, muscle cramps, extreme thirst, and dark urine. If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should seek a cooler environment, drink plenty of water, rest, and use water to cool your body.
- Heat stroke is a medical emergency.
Medical emergencies in the heat
During a medical emergency, you should call 911, using it responsibly to not overload the system.
When to call 911:
- In general: when there is chest pain, difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, severe burns, choking, convulsions that are not stopping, a drowning, a severe allergic reaction, a head injury, signs of a stroke, or a major trauma.
- More specifically related to hot weather: severe headache, confusion, unsteadiness, loss of thirst, nausea/vomiting, and dark urine or no urine are signs of dangerous heat-related illness.
If you are experiencing a less-urgent health issue, try using online tools, calling HealthLinkBC to speak to a nurse at 811, or going to an urgent care clinic.