PUBLIC URGED TO CONTINUE PRACTICING HEAT WAVE PRECAUTIONS
Submitted by Vancouver Coastal Health Communications
As a heat warning remains in place across B.C., Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) continues to encourage residents in the region to take precautions to stay safe. At this time, risks from extreme heat exceed the risks posed by COVID-19.
While everyone is at risk of heat-related illness, 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. If you are taking medication, particularly for mental illness, ask your doctor or pharmacist if it increases your health risk in the heat and follow their recommendations.
WITHIN HEALTH-CARE SETTINGS
We encourage all patients, clients, visitors and staff to stay cool and hydrated, and observe for signs and symptoms of dehydration and overheating.
Facilities, Maintenance and Operations have worked pre-emptively to ensure appropriate ventilation and cooling for sites across the health region.
COPING WITH THE HEAT
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:
- Drink cool non-alcoholic beverages (preferably water) irrespective of your activity intake. Don’t wait until you are thirsty.
- 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.
- 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.
- Seek out an air-conditioned facility (such as a shopping centre, library, community centre or restaurant).
- Use public splash pools, water parks or pools or take a cool bath or shower.
- At current temperatures, fans alone are not effective. Applying cool water mist or wet towels prior to sitting in front of a fan is a quick way to cool off.
- Dress for the weather by wearing loose, light-weight clothing. Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
- Keep your home cool. Open windows, close shades, use an air conditioner (if you have one) and prepare meals that do not require an oven.
- Avoid sunburn, stay in the shade or use sunscreen with SPF 15 or more.
- Avoid tiring work or exercise in the heat. If you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of non-alcoholic fluids each hour. Limit day time outdoor activity to early morning and evening.
Check in on others
- People living alone are at high risk of severe heat-related illness. Check regularly on older people, and those who are unable to leave their homes, for signs of heat-related illness.
- Ask whether people know how to prevent heat-related illness and are doing the same.
- If others are unwell, move them to a cool shady spot, help them get hydrated and call for medical assistance if appropriate.
- Listen to local news and weather channels.
- For more information on heat-related illness, call HealthLink BC at 811.