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Staying Safe in A Heatwave

Temperature change in Canada

Our sizzling summer isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so let’s talk about keeping you, your loved ones, and your neighbourhood safe!


Fraser Health lists what to watch for in yourself and others during hot weather:

“Symptoms of heat-related illness can include thirst, dizziness, confusion, weakness and fainting or collapsing, including loss of consciousness.”[1] If you or a loved one are experiencing these symptoms, seek help and call 9-1-1 for immediate assistance, or if there is no immediate danger, call 8-1-1 for advice on how to proceed.


Prevention is really the name of the game in times of extreme heat. First, start drinking and I don’t, regrettably, mean anything with alcohol. Alcohol has a dehydrating effect on the body and can make the experience of heat worse. Don’t wait till you are thirsty to just start downing cool refreshing water—drink water constantly throughout the day. If you are going to be away from home for the day, consider investing in an insulated water bottle to keep that water chilly.


As you head out the door, make smart clothing choices; loose fitting breathable fabrics are your friends. Natural fibres like cotton or linen will be the most comfortable. Avoid polyester and nylon as they will trap water and heat on your body. And don’t forget to apply sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or greater before you head out and then every two hours after. Pop on a wide brimmed hat and shades to complete your heat-adaption fashion.


If you are heading out to work or to exercise, stop and consider if you can modify, particularly if it is between the hours of 10-2pm when the sun is hottest. If you have to go outside, up your water intake even more, piling on 2-4 glasses of water for every hour you are outside.


If your home, like mine, is not equipped with air-conditioning, head out to climate-controlled spaces. Make an appointment (thank you, COVID) at your local rec center. Go for a swim or get that run that you postponed because of the heat done on a treadmill. Set aside some time to study, read, or just watch YouTube at the library. Of course, there is always the mall or a friend with air-conditioning, too. 


Another important thing to remember in a heat wave is that not everyone may be as able to adapt as we are. Check on your older family members and friends. Ask if they need help running errands or setting up a fan. Encourage them to seek help before it becomes an emergency. 


Likewise, our five and under group of family and friends need extra attention when the mercury rises. Consider a visit to a spray park or splash pad to cool down. Provide lots of water sunscreen and shade. For our four-legged friends, make sure they have access to even more water than usual and a place in the shade while they are outside. For both children and pets, never leave them in a parked car alone. The increase in temperature can be deadly.


Our leafy green neighbours or dry twigs could also use a little extra love. If you happen to live next to trees with water bags or water-me signs attached, take the opportunity to refill the bag or water underneath the tree for up to 10 minutes Check with your local watering restrictions to make sure you are following the bylaws as they differ by neighbourhood.


Let’s remember to go into this new school year keeping our cool and helping others to do the same no mater how hot it gets outside.  Stay safe!