With B.C. under a nearly province-wide heat warning, finding ways to stay cool is this week’s top topic for Interior residents.
“A strong ridge of high pressure will bring a heat wave to British Columbia this week,” says the national weather agency.
The peak daytime high temperatures are expected from Wednesday to Friday. Then, a slow cooling trend is likely this weekend to early next week.”
While well short of last year’s blistering and record-setting temperatures experienced during the heat dome in late June and early July, this week’s forecast still has scorching-hot numbers that could lead to potential health issues for some.
The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) says heat events can post a very high risk of severe illness for some if they don’t have access to a cool indoor environment.
And the longer the heat event, the BCCDC says the risk of heat-related illness increases.
“Seniors and persons with chronic conditions are at greater risk and may not realize that they are getting too hot,” says the BCCDC. “People with limited mobility may also need extra help to take steps to keep cool.”
The National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health says if a person you know doesn’t have air conditioning, check in with them regularly to see how they are coping. It also has a checklist that’s available online.
Health agencies say the most susceptible individuals include:
- Older adults, especially those over 60
- People with pre-existing health conditions
- People with mental illnesses
- People with substance use disorders
- People with limited mobility and other disabilities
- People who are marginally housed
- People who work in hot environments
- People who are pregnant
- Infants and young children
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To avoid heat illness, health agencies say you should drink plenty of water, or other liquids, to stay hydrated, and to take it easy during the hottest hours of the day.
They also say to take immediate action to cool down if you’re overheating.
Signs of overheating include feeling unwell, headache and dizziness. Overheating can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Signs of heat exhaustion include:
Cool, moist skin with goose bumps when in the heat
- Heavy sweating
- Weak, rapid pulse
- Low blood pressure upon standing
- Muscle cramps
- Dark urine
If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should seek a cooler environment, drink plenty of water, rest and use water to cool your body.
Signs of heat stroke include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Rapid breathing
- Racing heart rate
- Severe nausea
- Very dark urine or no urine
Interior Health says heat stroke is a medical emergency.
The Mayo Clinic says heat stroke is the most serious form of heat injury, and can occur if your body temperature rises to 40 C (104 F) or higher.
It suggests taking immediate action to cool the overheated person while waiting for emergency treatment by whatever means available.
- Get the person into the shade or indoors.
- Remove excess clothing.
- Put them in a cool tub of water or a cool shower
- Spray them with a garden hose
- Sponge them with cool water
- Fan them while misting with cool water
- Place ice packs or cold, wet towels on the person’s head, neck, armpits and groin
“Heatstroke requires emergency treatment. Untreated heatstroke can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles,” says the Mayo Clinic.
“The damage worsens the longer treatment is delayed, increasing your risk of serious complications or death.”
More information on heat-related emergencies can also be found on the Red Cross website.