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It’s hot out there – know the signs of heat exhaustion

Highs of 30°C July 26-28 | Still high July 29-31 (29°C Friday, down to a high of 27°C Sunday)

Tuesday July 26, 2022 | LANGFORD, BC [Updated July 27, 2022 – 12:05 pm]

by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc. | Island Social Trends


South Vancouver Island is now experiencing a significant heat wave. It started ramping up yesterday and is expected to last the rest of the week.

Environment Canada for today reports forecasts a fully sunny day with a high of 30°C (a bit lower at 25°C by the water). Humidex 37°C or 31°C near the water. UV index very high at 9. Tonight Clear. Wind light except west 30 km/h near Juan de Fuca Strait. Low temperature 16°C.

By day’s end, it turn’s out today Tuesday July 26 was a record-breaking day in Victoria, with the 31°C high beating the 1971 record of 30°C.

Night time temperatures a challenge:

In addition to high temperatures in the daytime, the night time temperatures are not cooling down all that much. This is a health challenge for the human body, especially for people who are older and who have other health conditions (heart, lung, diabetes, etc).

weather, forecast, victoria, July 26, 2022
Weather forecast for Victoria for July 26 to 31, 2022 [Environment Canada]

Not a heat dome:

This is not a true heat dome, per se. Last year (five days at the end of June 2021) there was a heat dome which trapped hot air day and night. There were 619 deaths in BC directly related to that 5-day heat event in 2021.

The BC Coroner determined that most of the deaths last year resulted among people who did not have air conditioning, and that many were older and/or had other health conditions. There was a reflection of lower income status (people alone in small unventilated spaces) and also of people who lived alone.

coroner, heat, report
‘Extreme Heat and Human Mortality: A Review of Heat Related Deaths in B.C. in Summer 2021’ released June 7, 2022 by the BC Coroners Service.

There was also a dawning realization that building codes may need to change and that municipal standards for community support might need to improve, including cooling centres.

Earlier this year, the BC government introduced a heat alert process and released a heat emergency plan. Local governments are better prepared for setting up cooling centres. Last year Island Health took the lead one day before temperatures really skyrocketed, focussing their messaging through local Island media.

Governments are learning more about listening to weather forecasts, which are far more reliable (due to modern satellite and telecommunications technology) than they’ve been in the past. Last year, a prominent meteorologist advised Union of BC Municipalities delegates that they did warn about the heat dome.

This year, compared to last, more agencies jumped on the heat-info band wagon, including municipalities and BC Transit.

Got your fans in place?

Preparing your living spaces for heat management is key.

jdf emerg, heat
The Juan de Fuca Emergency Program posts regular tweets about emergency preparedness.

Keep windows and blinds or drapes closed during the day, then opening them in the evening for a breeze of cooler air. Run fans or air conditioning as available. Take advantage of cross-ventilation.

Stay hydrated; drink water before you feel thirsty. Remember that caffeine (in coffee, tea, cola-type beverages) increases dehydration. Use cool cloths to refresh your skin, or take showers at a cooler temperature than usual.

If you’re outdoors find shade frequently, and wear a hat in direct sun. Loose clothing helps. Wear sunscreen and replenish as required.

Minimize your indoor activity, or do strenuous things earlier in the day.

Cooling centres in the west shore include:

There is a cooling centre in Langford today at the Connetions Point Church at 103-737 Goldstream Ave, open 9:30 am to 3:30 pm.

Langford Fire Rescue says: “Stay cool this week by visiting a local spray park! Extended Hours!” 9am to 9pm!

langford fire, heat
Langford Fire Rescue announced a cooling centre, on Twitter July 26, 2022.
  • Glen Lake Beach Park at 3076 Shore View Dr
  • Centennial Park at 2805 Carlow Road
  • Langford Lake Spray Park at 3018 Trillium Rd
  • Veterans Memorial Park at 2830 Aldwynd Rd

Langford Fire Chief Chris Aubrey says that with the safety messaging this week and providing various places to cool off, that it will prevent anyone from needing medical attention due to the heat.

“As this is a heat warning and not an extreme heat emergency — like last year’s heat dome — I am optimistic that by taking some extra precautions people will be able to enjoy this hot stretch while staying safe,” said Chief Aubrey today.

BC Transit buses are air conditioned:

All BC Transit buses are air conditioned. This provides “a climate controlled method of travel”, including to outdoor misting stations.

BC Transit has posted a map of misting stations in Greater Victoria, most of which are located along bus routes.

bc transit, misting stations, map
Misting station locations along BC Transit bus routes. [BC Transit – July 27, 2022]

Signs of heat exhaustion:

The earliest signs of heat exhaustion in hot weather include muscle cramps, dizziness, headache and extreme thirst.

Mitzi Dean

Helping people and pets:

Keep an eye out for the well-being of elderly people or those who are indoors for extended periods of time, especially if they have no air conditioning  just to see if they’re okay during a prolonged bout of heat.

If you’re working outdoors, take regularly scheduled breaks in a cool place.

Do not* leave people or pets in a car for *any* length of time. Those enclosed spaces heat up very quickly; injuries and deaths do happen from such situations. In May 2019 in BC, a 16-month-old boy died after being left in a hot car.

“Pets are part of the family too. Make sure they have plenty of water and are with you in cool locations,” says Jeri Grant, who coordinates the Juan de Fuca Emergency Program. When outside, stay in shady areas and avoid asphalt and pavement. Those surfaces can burn paws.

Today on Twitter, MLA Mitzi Dean (Esquimalt-Metchosin) posted some heat-related tips, including eating fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet during the heat (as a way to increase hydration). | See WorkSafeBC information on heat stress.

monk office, 70th

===== RELATED:

BC launches preparedness plan for heat events (June 8, 2022)

BC Coroners report on extreme heat deaths dedicated to the victims (June 7, 2022)

ist

Meteorologist tells UBCM: heat dome was no surprise (September 15, 2021)

Island Health on municipal building standards: helping people adapt during extreme heat (June 27, 2021)

Hot weather: stay hydrated & protected from sun (June 25, 2021)

===== ABOUT ISLAND SOCIAL TRENDS:

Island Social Trends covers social impact news of the South Vancouver Island region.

Previously was in print as MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), Sooke Voice News (2011-2013), and West Shore Voice News (2014-2020). Since mid-2020 our news has been delivered online to attentive readers at islandsocialtrends.ca .