An extreme heat alert has been issued for B.C.'s southwest region, which includes the Tri-Cities.
According to Fraser Health, the notice was put in effect last night (Aug. 12) as daytime temperatures are expected to range from 32 to 35 C from today (Aug. 13) to Sunday (Aug. 15) with humidity making it feel even hotter.
In the Tri-City region, the mercury may reach more than 40 C with the humidity today and just under that threshold tomorrow (Aug. 14).
Furthermore, significant amounts of wildfire smoke from the Interior are expected in the Lower Mainland over the next few days making air quality even worse.
Hot temperatures are especially dangerous for the elderly and the young, those working in the heat, anyone with chronic heart and lung conditions and some people with mental health issues, according to health officials.
Also, people living alone and those who are homeless or have inadequate housing can be at higher risk.
More than 500 people died in late June in B.C. when parts of the province were engulfed in a “heat dome” that caused temperatures to rise into the high 30s.
Tri-City communities have listed several cooling centres, clean air spaces and other facilities for residents seeking refuge from the heat, humidity and/or hazy skies.
The public is invited to drop in at any of the following places activated by the city this morning in response to the extreme heat alert:
- Poirier Sport & Leisure Complex (633 Poirier Street)
- Friday to Sunday – 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
- City Centre Aquatic Complex (1210 Pinetree Way)
- Friday to Sunday – 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
- Glen Pine Pavilion (1200 Glen Pine Court)
- Friday – 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
- Saturday – 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
If you are planning to be outside, Coquitlam has nine spray parks where residents can splash around:
- Blue Mountain Spray Park (975 King Albert Ave.)
- Burns Park Spray Park (802 Edgar Ave.)
- Cottonwood Spray Park (672 Aspen St.)
- Galloway Spray Park (3404 Galloway Ave.)
- Mackin Spray Park (1046 Brunette Ave.)
- Norm Staff Spray Park (3320 David Ave.)
- Panorama Spray Park (1485 Johnson St.)
- Rochester Spray Park (1390 Rochester Ave.)
- Town Centre Spray Park (1299 Pinetree Way)
The Eagle Ridge and Spani outdoor pools are also open for public use. You can visit the city's website for more information.
The Port Coquitlam Community Centre (PCCC) will be open as a cooling centre tomorrow through until Sunday — 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day — with the possibility of hours being extended to 8 p.m. as needed, the city says.
Residents are welcome to bring their pets to the PCCC, and must follow all health and safety protocols including sanitizing hands and ensure physical distancing. Masks are recommended, not mandated.
The Terry Fox Library is also open for those trying to find relief from the heat. You can view its daily schedule by visiting its website.
In Port Moody, the city is opening its Civic Centre Galleria as well as misting tents at Pioneer Memorial Park and PoMo Rotary SK8 Park.
Each will be open between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. from Wednesday until Saturday (Aug. 14).
WATCH FOR HEAT ILLNESSES
Tri-City residents are being reminded to stay cool and hydrated during the extreme heat alert and to take all steps necessary to avoid heatstroke.
If you see someone experiencing heat-related illnesses, you're urged to call 911. While you're waiting, move them to a cool place if you can, apply cold water to large areas of their skin or clothing and fan the person as much as possible.
Symptoms can include heat exhaustion, heat fainting, heat edema (swelling of hands, feet and ankles), heat rash and muscle cramps, dizziness or fainting, nausea or vomiting, headache, rapid breathing and heartbeat, extreme thirst, and decreased urination with unusually dark yellow urine.
Tips to avoid heat-related illnesses include:
- Drink plenty of cool liquids, especially water, before feeling thirsty to avoid dehydration
- Slow down: Your body can't function as well in high temperatures
- Take a cool shower or bath
- Avoid sun exposure
- Cover your head and face with a wide-brimmed breathable hat or umbrella when outdoors
- Seek shade and use sunscreen that is SPF 15 or higher
- Dress in lightweight, light-coloured and loose-fitting clothing made of breathable fabric
- NEVER leave people or pets in your care inside a parked vehicle or in direct sunlight
- Frequently check on family members, neighbours and friends who are elderly or chronically ill to make sure they are cool and hydrated
- Plan outdoor activities during cooler parts of the day, or try to find a cooler outdoor location (e.g.under tree cover)
- Visit a spray park or book a visit at an outdoor pool
- Follow any COVID-19 restrictions in place
- Prepare meals that don’t need to be cooked in the oven
- Block out sun by opening awnings, and closing curtains or blinds during the day
- with files from Maria Rantanen, Richmond News