WARNING: Temperatures above 32°C for two days in Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley

sunENVIRONMENT Canada has issued a special weather statement for hot weather for Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Sea to Sky at 11:43AM PDT on July 12, 2014.  This is the first stretch of hot weather this summer.  As a result, the Lower Mainland Medical Health Officers for Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health are issuing this joint news release about hot weather precautions.

Prepare for the heat
While warm weather is pleasant and eagerly anticipated in British Columbia, hot temperatures can be dangerous.  Everyone is at risk of heat related illness, but in particular, children, seniors and people with chronic health conditions are more vulnerable. There are a variety of mild to severe symptoms linked with heat-related illness, including thirst, dizziness, confusion, weakness, fainting, collapsing and even death.  Medical Health Officers are reminding residents to take precautions to protect themselves from the heat, including:

1. Stay hydrated
o       Drink cool beverages (preferably water) irrespective of your activity intake.  Don’t wait until you are thirsty.
o       If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask about increasing the amount of water you can drink while the weather is hot.

2. Keep cool
o       Spend at least several hours every day in an air-conditioned facility (such as a shopping centre, library, community centre or restaurant).
o       Use public splash pools, water parks or pools, or take a cool bath or shower.
o       At current temperatures, fans alone are not effective.  Applying cool water mist or wet towels to your body prior to sitting in front of a fan is a quick way to cool off.
o       Dress for the weather by wearing loose, light-weight clothing.  Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
o       Keep your home cool.  Open windows, close shades, use an air conditioner and prepare meals that do not require an oven.
o       Avoid sunburn, stay in the shade or use sunscreen with SPF 30 or more.
o       Avoid tiring work or exercise in the heat. If you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of non-alcoholic fluids each hour.  Limit outdoor activity during the day to early morning and evening.
o       NEVER leave children or pets alone in a parked car.  Temperatures can rise to 52°C (125°F) within 20 minutes in an enclosed vehicle when the outside temperature is 34°C (93°F).  Leaving the car windows slightly open or “cracked” will not keep the inside of the vehicle at a safe temperature.

3. Check in on others
o       People living alone are at high risk of severe heat related illness. Check regularly on older people, those who are unable to leave their homes and anyone who may not be spending at least several hours every day in air conditioned places for signs of heat-related illness.
o       Ask whether people know how to prevent heat-related illness and are doing the same.
o       If they are unwell, move them to a cool shady spot, help them get hydrated and call for medical assistance if required.

4. Get informed.
o       Listen to local news and weather channels.
o       For more information on heat-related illness, call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1.
o       Contact your local government to find out what services (such as air conditioned buildings and public splash parks) are available in your area.

VCH is responsible for the delivery of $2.9 billion in community, hospital and residential care to more than one million people in communities including Richmond, Vancouver, the North Shore, Sunshine Coast, Sea to Sky corridor, Powell River, Bella Bella and Bella Coola.

Fraser Health provides a wide range of integrated health services to the largest and fastest growing population in B.C. The health authority is committed to improving the health of the population and the quality of life of more than 1.6 million people living in communities from Burnaby to White Rock to Hope.