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Heat wave prompts need to be neighbourly in Okanagan

Businesses, residents and visitors asked to take care of each other
Home Depot and other caring individuals are donating water to the Upper Room Mission during the heat wave. (URM photo)

As record-breaking temperatures roll in, residents and visitors are urged to take care of themselves, and their neighbours.

Environment Canada has issued a heat warning for the Okanagan Valley (including Vernon) over the next few days.

Between Saturday and Wednesday, Environment Canada is forecasting daytime highs to range between 35-40 degrees Celsius and overnight lows are expected to range between 20-22 C.

All residents, businesses and visitors are urged to prepare for the impacts of this hot weather event and take specific precautions to care for yourselves and each other.

The City has been working closely with the Social Planning Council of North Okanagan and other community partners to identify resources and practical ways to assist those who may be more vulnerable or negatively impacted by the prolonged increased temperatures. Service providers and outreach teams will be assisting individuals who are unhoused by offering bottles of water and information about where to find shade, access to public facilities during the day, and additional water resources.

“People may not be well prepared for this heat and may find themselves needing to take quick action to cool down and/or hydrate,” Vernon’s emergency program coordinator Sue Sanders said. “The City is reaching out because as businesses and agencies, you may have the ability to be part of the solution.”

Offering to fill water bottles, looking for signs of heat stroke and distress, directing people to shady spots and drinking water stations such as Polson Park or an external tap at the 30th Ave./35th St. washroom.

READ MORE: Water wanted ahead of heat wave

Interior Health and the BCCDC recommend watching yourself and others for signs of heat-related illness and to take specific steps to stay cool and hydrated, including:

• Drink water regularly, before you start to feel thirsty

• Seek shade or cool indoor locations, avoid direct mid-day sun

• Wear loose protective clothing and a hat, sunscreen and UV-protective eyewear

• Plan your outdoor activity before 11 a.m. or after 4 p.m., to avoid the most intense sun, and take it slow with plenty of rest breaks

• Never leave people or pets alone in a parked car. Temperatures can rise rapidly and become much hotter than the outside temperature

• Cover windows during the day and open them in the evening if you can get a breeze through your home

• Use air conditioning (if available) to take the edge off the heat, but be careful not to over-cool your space

• If you don’t have air conditioning, seek shelter in the coolest room of your home and use a fan

• Regularly check on relatives, friends and neighbours to see how they’re doing; particularly older adults, infants and children, those doing a lot of physical activity or working outside, and those with underlying health conditions

If you are planning to spend time outside, remember to check the forecast, be prepared with safety items and plenty of water, and pay very close attention to your activities and the surrounding area. With increased temperatures, the threat of wildfire can change quickly. If you see a wildfire, call the BC Wildfire Service at 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.

READ MORE: Heat wave prompts heat-injury warnings for B.C.'s outdoor workers


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Jennifer Smith

About the Author: Jennifer Smith

20-year-Morning Star veteran
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