After weeks of thunderstorms and wet weather, temperatures across the province are expected to rise Monday, as the summer sun brings with it significant heat for much of Alberta.
On Monday morning, Environment Canada issued a heat warning for much of the province, including Alberta’s major cities of Edmonton and Calgary.
Red Deer, Medicine Hat, Fort McMurray, Brooks and several surrounding communities have also been placed under the warning as temperatures are expected to soar to 29 C or higher for the next two days.
To avoid negative effects from the heat, officials said residents in communities under the active warning should consider rescheduling outdoor events for cooler hours of the day, take frequent indoor breaks and drink plenty of water.
Officials are also warning to never leave children or pets in cars inside vehicles during high temperatures.
According to Environment Canada, heat warnings are issued when very high-temperature conditions are expected to pose an elevated risk of heat illnesses, such as heat stroke or heat exhaustion.
If a person is spending several hours outdoors, officials said they should monitor themselves for symptoms of heat-related illnesses, including high body temperature, lack of sweat, confusion, fainting and unconsciousness.
“Pay particular attention to individuals that can experience earlier or more severe effects from heat,” Environment Canada said.
“That includes infants, children, seniors and individuals with pre-existing lung, heart, kidney, nervous system, mental health or diabetic conditions, outdoor workers as well as those who are socially isolated.”
At Boyle Street Community Centre in Edmonton, COVID-19 precautions have had a serious impact on water supply.
“We had to close our water fountain out back based on recommendations from our health inspector,” Jaquie DuVal, a spokesperson for Boyle Street Community Centre, said.
The closure of their water fountain means less access to water for homeless people, so Boyle Street is asking for bottled water donations.
“Having access to water is a basic human right and to not be able to drink and stay hydrated on a hot day like this, it can lead to dehydration, it can lead to heat stroke,” DuVal said.
The City of Calgary was only able to open half the usual number of spray parks this summer because of the uncertainty around COVID-19.
At the ones that are open, social distancing circles have been painted on the grass at some and capacity limits are posted at the gates, meaning some have had to wait their turn.
Jenny Book was at Rotary Park on Monday with her children and said she was disappointed more didn’t open to give families more options.
“It is kind of confusing because you’d think if more of them are open he would be more easily spaced,” she said. “It’s quite easy to socially distance in a park like this, even on a hot day like today, there’s lots of room between everybody.”
Bob Hawkins said he and his family had to wait about 15 minutes at Rotary Park to get a circle.
“We just wandered around and let [our daughter] go in the water and then once there was a spot we just came and settled in. Seems like everybody’s following the rules pretty well.” he said.
“It’s good that something’s open. Can’t complain, you know, work with what you’ve got.”
Anthony Fisher with the Calgary company Harmony Heating & Air Conditioning said his crews have been busier than usual this summer with so many people working from home now wanting air conditioners.
“Before they were able to put up with five, six hours of uncomfortable heat in the house, but now that they’re at home 18, 20, 24 hours a day, they’re just not willing to put up with it anymore,” Fisher said.
“They’re huddling down in the basement, where they can get down to 19 C and they don’t necessarily want to be parked in the basement, where it’s dark. They’ve got to be comfortable while they’re working.”
In addition to dealing with the heat, Albertans in the zones of the heatwave are also experiencing a different struggle: wearing face masks because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s very difficult and like challenging to breathe, with the heat and you’re a sweaty underneath the mask so it can be uncomfortable,” Calgarian Jamie Guy said.
“What’s it like trying to wear a mask in this weather? Oh, it’s awful, it’s awful to wear a mask when it’s really hot, but if it’s necessary, I would wear one,” Patti Evans said.
Environment Canada ended the heat warning for Calgary on Wednesday at 9:45 p.m.
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