Vancouver's recent warm spell isn't expected to evolve into dangerously hot conditions, but officials are nonetheless advising residents to stay hydrated and keep an eye on vulnerable neighbours.
Environment Canada forecasted Friday's temperatures would hit 28 degrees Celsius, then drop to 26 degrees on Saturday, 24 degrees on Sunday and Monday, and 23 on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The City of Vancouver issued an advisory Aug. 15 reminding people to keep cool and check on others who might be feeling adverse effects of too much sun.
"People need to keep aware of the heat," Daniel Stevens, the city's acting director of emergency management, told the Courier. "If you're going outdoors and you're doing a lot of physically activity, you should maybe tone it down a little bit. Just be aware of the signs of heat exhaustion-feeling faint, extra thirsty, feeling dizzy-and know what to do: stop, hydrate, cool off. "
Stevens said a key reminder is to watch out for others in the city.
"There are people out on the streets, especially the vulnerable, the elderly, the homeless and the very young who could be exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion-especially people that may live alone in buildings [like] the elderly who don't get out as much. The indoor temperatures of some buildings can get quite high, even though the outdoor temperature isn't significant."
Extreme heat can kill. Curtis Ralph Brick, a 46year-old homeless man, died in Grandview Park from hyperthermia due to prolonged exposure to high temperatures on one of the hottest days in the summer of 2009.
The city follows an extreme heat plan. The first stage is an awareness stage in which the focus is advising the public that warm weather conditions have arrived and providing tips on how to stay cool.
The second stage, which isn't expected to happen, is sparked when the medical health office issues an extreme heat wave warning.
"That's our really big call to action when we open up cooling centres and we increase patrols with police, volunteers, fire and park rangers through parks and commercial areas to look out for people in heat distress," Stevens said.
Vancouver has 255 permanent water fountains positioned around the city, whose locations can be found on the city website. There are also five additional temporary fountains that crews installed over the last few weeks at Fraser Street and East Broadway, Commercial Drive and East Broadway, Burrard Street at Davie, Vanier Park near the Coast Guard building, and at Granville and West 70th.
Dr. Meena Dawar, medical health officer with Vancouver Coastal Health, said as temperatures start to rise above 17 or 18 degrees Celsius, at-risk people start to feel adverse effects. She noted inside temperatures could be hotter.
At 31 degrees at Vancouver airport or 36 degrees in Abbotsford, the normal daily death rate of about 40 in the Lower Mainland starts to increase to about 60.
Mild to medium heatrelated symptoms can include sweating, cramping, fatigue, weakness and nausea, while heat stroke can cause confusion and hallucinations. People are seriously ill at this point and can suffer unconsciousness, coma and death if untreated.
"For certain people, such as people who work outside on the street or who exercise on a hot day, and those who live in apartment buildings where it might get really hot, they should certainly pay attention to their micro environment," Dawar added.
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