July 30, 2014 5:08 pm

Heat advisory issued for Edmonton Zone

Watch above: Albertans set a new summer record for electricity demand today, and AHS issued a heat advisory for the Edmonton zone. Laurel Gregory digs into the heat and its impact.

EDMONTON – With temperatures in the Edmonton area expected to climb, Alberta Health Services issued a heat advisory Wednesday morning.

The heat advisory will remain in effect for the next 72 hours, until 11:00 a.m., August 2.

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“We have an Omega High over western Canada,” said Global Edmonton Meteorologist Nicola Crosbie. “It’s called this because the jet stream is shaped like the Greek Omega symbol and it blocks any systems coming in from the west.”

“When we have a blocking high like this, we tend to break records.  Edmonton’s record today is 32.2 [degrees] from 1939.”

“There were 10 temperatures records broken across Alberta on Tuesday.

“Jasper hit 34.4, breaking a 20 year old record,” Crosbie added.

Just before noon, AHS issued the advisory, recommending that everyone in the Edmonton Zone take precautions to protect themselves and their families from the potentially harmful effects of the sun and heat.

The health authority suggests rescheduling outdoor activities to cooler hours of the day, taking breaks from the heat, drinking plenty of water, wearing sunscreen, and keeping covered from direct sunlight.

It also reminds people not to leave any person or pet inside a closed vehicle.

In July alone, Edmonton Humane Society peace officers were called 72 times about pets allegedly left in hot vehicles. Charges are pending in several cases.

Children are especially vulnerable to heat as well.

“Never leave a child in the car unattended,” said Dr. Chris Sikora, Edmonton Zone’s Medical Officer of Health for AHS.

“It’s just not something that should ever happen.”

“Children have a much larger surface area. They lose water much more easily than you or I would, and the little ones won’t be reaching for a glass of water like I might when I’m outside.”

Symptoms of heat stroke include high body temperature, lack of sweat, disorientation, fainting, and unconsciousness.

“Normal activity that may be safe on a cool day might be dangerous in current weather conditions,” said Sikora.

“If you start to feel overheated, stop your activity immediately, seek shade and drink fluids.”

“Seek medical attention immediately for any individual feeling faint,” Sikora added.  “While awaiting medical attention, move the individual to a shaded area, and remove his or her outer clothing and shoes.  You should also wrap the person in a wet towel until medical care is being provided.”

People who are even more vulnerable to heat include children, seniors, individuals with pre-existing respiratory or cardiovascular conditions, outdoor workers, as well as those who are socially isolated.

Albertans can also contact Health Link Alberta at 1-866-408-LINK (5465).

“Unfortunately, because of the descending air due to high pressure and lack of wind, pollutants get trapped at the surface,” explained Crosbie.  “Air quality also becomes an issue.”

On Wednesday, Environment Canada had Edmonton’s Air Quality Health Index listed as a level 5 (Moderate risk).

Meanwhile, the Alberta Electric System Operator is asking Albertans to reduce power.

Due to the hot weather, low wind and generators being offline, the electricity system is operating at near full capacity, says AESO. It is requesting all Albertans to voluntarily reduce their use of electricity by:

  • Turning off unnecessary lights and electrical appliances;
  • Minimizing the use of air conditioning by closing blinds, shades or drapes during the hottest part of the day; and,
  • Avoiding the use of major power-consuming equipment such as dishwashers and washers and dryers during the energy conservation period.

When asked if there was any concern of rolling brownouts, a spokesperson for the AESO said “the system is experiencing very high demand, wind is low and two coal plants are out,” but added that there was still a healthy reserve. “At this point we are good but our system controllers are monitoring the system very closely.”

The AESO will be posting updates on Twitter @theaeso and on its website.

“A cold front is forecast to come through late Thursday, bringing much cooler, unstable weather for the weekend,” Crosbie said.

The City of Edmonton extended public swim hours at select outdoor pools until Friday, Aug. 1, including:

Wednesday, July 30
Oliver Outdoor Pool (11 a.m. – 9 p.m.)
Mill Creek Outdoor Pool (11 a.m. – 9 p.m.)

Thursday, July 31
Queen Elizabeth Outdoor Pool (11 a.m. – 9 p.m.)
Oliver Outdoor Pool (11 a.m. – 9 p.m.)
Mill Creek Outdoor Pool (11 a.m. – 9 p.m.)

Friday, August 1
Fred Broadstock Outdoor Pool (11 a.m. – 9 p.m.)
Oliver Outdoor Pool (11 a.m. – 9 p.m.)
Mill Creek Outdoor Pool (11 a.m. – 9 p.m.)

© Shaw Media, 2014

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