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Extreme heat about to settle into the Thompson Okanagan

The beach is popular as temperatures heat up in the Okanagan.
July 27, 2021 - 5:20 PM

The province is asking British Columbians to take precautions this week as another heat wave is poised to make life uncomfortable.

Extreme heat is predicted to start on Wednesday, July 28 and continue through to Saturday, July 31.

"Extreme heat is dangerous and can have devastating and deadly consequences,"  Adrian Dix, Minister of Health said in a press release. "Health authorities and BC Emergency Health Services are preparing to assist people in need during the heat wave. British Columbians must also make any necessary preparations ahead of time and take steps to ensure the safety of yourself and your loved ones."

Environment Canada notes the higher-than-normal temperatures will provide little relief at night, with elevated overnight temperatures, increasing the risk of heat-related illnesses.

"It is important to be aware of and follow the health guidelines provided to keep your body cool while temperatures outside rise," said Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer. "This includes limiting physical activity outdoors, finding a cool, air-conditioned place and keeping hydrated, and taking extra care to check in with people most at risk, including infants and young children and older people."

From Kamloops to Kelowna temperatures are expected to reach around 36 C to 38 C which, despite coming with risk, are far less shocking to the system than heat much of the Southern Interior and Lower Mainland felt in June. On June 29, an all-time Canadian record of 49.6 Celsius was set in Lytton. All-time records were also set that day in Kamloops at 47.3 C, Kelowna at 45.7 C and Vernon at 44.2 C. Penticton’s all-time record was set on June 28 at 42.5 C.

The last heat wave had a significant death toll.

From June 25 to July 1,  there were 579 more deaths in B.C. than an average year. The provincial total was 777 deaths recorded compared to the five-year average of 198. The Interior's share of that was  110 residents, which is. 64 more than the average for the same seven-day period (June 25 to July 1) in each of the previous five years, according to data provided by the B.C. Coroners Service today, July 6.

The average for that five-year period was 46 deaths, with the highest number, 59, dying last year.

HealthLink BC has these tips for keeping cool and healthy:

* Drink plenty of fluids. Drink extra water even before you feel thirsty and if you are active on a hot day. Ask your health-care provider about how much water you should drink on hot days if you are on water pills or limiting your fluid intake.

* Keep cool. Stay indoors in air-conditioned buildings or take a cool bath or shower. At temperatures above 30 C, fans alone may not be able to prevent heat-related illness. Sunscreen will protect against the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays, but not from the heat.

* Plan activity before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m., when the sun's UV radiation is the weakest.

* Avoid tiring work or exercise in hot, humid environments. If you must work or exercise, drink two to four glasses of non-alcoholic fluids each hour. Rest breaks are important and should be taken in the shade.

* Avoid sunburn: Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher on exposed skin and an SPF 30 lip balm, and reapply often.

* Wear lightweight, light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing and a wide brimmed hat, or use an umbrella for shade.

* Never leave children alone in a parked car. Temperatures can rise to 52 C within 20 minutes inside a vehicle when the outside temperature is 34 C. Leaving the car windows slightly open will not keep the inside of the vehicle at a safe temperature.

* Regularly check older adults, children and others for signs of heat-related illness, and make sure they are keeping cool and drinking plenty of fluids. Check on those who are unable to leave their homes and people with emotional or mental health challenges whose judgment may be impaired.

* Heat also affects pets. Never leave a pet in a parked car. Limit pets' exercise, and be sure to provide them with plenty of water and shade.


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