Environment Canada has escalated the Lower Mainland’s heatwave warning to an “extreme heat alert,” and health authorities are advising the public to take necessary precautions.
High temperatures are forecasted from Aug. 13 to 15, with daytime highs from 32 to 35 degrees and overnight lows of 17 to 19 degrees. Humidex values during this period will reach the high 30s.
“High temperatures in this range are historically associated with an increase in deaths among Lower Mainland residents,” says a news release from Fraser Health.
“The ‘extreme heat alert’ criteria indicates temperatures at which the expected risk to the public is extremely high, and a larger increase in deaths in the community is expected, based on recommendations by the BCCDC in addition to a health authority assessment of anticipated risk to health.”
This type of heat is especially dangerous for the young and old, people exercising, and those with chronic heart and lung conditions, mental health conditions, and experiencing homelessness, the release says. People who take prescriptions are being advised to ask their doctors or pharmacists about increased risk.
Health officers are “strongly advising” people to take precautions for their safety, especially considering the significant amount of wildfire smoke currently rolling through the Lower Mainland.
COVID protocols are of secondary importance during the extreme heat alert, says Fraser Health.
Cooling centres will be open, and no one should be denied access relating to crowding or physical distancing; if wearing a mask causes difficulty breathing, the mask should be removed.
“Based on previous heat events, the anticipated temperatures are proven to cause negative health outcomes among Lower Mainland residents who may not be acclimatized to temperatures in this range and may not have ready access to measures such as air conditioning,” Fraser Health says.
“Heat stress can pose an immediate danger to health and may be fatal. Symptoms of severe heat-related illness can include dizziness, confusion, weakness and fainting or collapsing, including loss of consciousness.”
Lower Mainlanders are being asked to conduct regular checks on vulnerable people, seek out air-conditioned spaces, keep their home cool, avoid exercise in the heat, stay hydrated, keep pets and children cool, dress for the weather, and seek care for heat-illness symptoms.
|Poster created by Fraser Health.|