Summer solstice has brought scorching temperatures across British Columbia, leading to multiple heat warnings being issued throughout the week by Environment Canada.
An unprecedented “heat dome” has taken shape over the lower mainland, causing temperatures to soar 34°C – 36°C across the region this weekend. In addition, the humidex is expected to reach the high 30s to possibly the low 40s.
According to Vancouver Coastal Health, high temperatures are historically associated with an increase in deaths among Lower Mainland residents.
In a recent release, the Lower Mainland Medical Health Officers for Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health advised that risks from the current extreme heat exceed risks from COVID-19.
While the Extreme Heat Alert is in place, health officials state:
- Cooling centres will be open, and no one should be denied access to these centres because of concerns about crowding or physical distancing.
- If people are wearing a mask and have difficulty breathing, they should remove the mask, whether they are indoors or outside, as wearing a mask may impact thermal regulation during heat events.
While everyone is at risk of heat related illness, officials point out that hot temperatures can be especially dangerous for the young, the elderly, those working or exercising in the heat, persons with chronic heart and lung conditions, persons with mental illness, people living alone and people experiencing homelessness.
There are a variety of mild to severe symptoms linked with heat-related illness, including thirst, dizziness, confusion, weakness and fainting or collapsing.
Medical Health Officers remind Lower Mainland residents to take precautions to protect themselves from the heat, including the importance of staying hydrated, keeping cool, checking in on others and staying informed.
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