After a cooler-than-usual spring, many British Columbians are welcoming the province’s first hot stretch of the summer this weekend.
While temperatures aren’t expected to soar to levels seen during last summer’s deadly heat dome, there are still dangers associated with warmer-than-average temperatures, especially if you don’t have air conditioning.
Dr. Sarah Henderson, scientific director of environmental health services at the BC Center for Disease Control tells CTV News that one of the ways people can stay cool is by spending time in air conditioned places.
“Places like shopping malls, movie theaters, libraries, community centers, that sort of thing,” she says.
When it comes to keeping your home cooler, Henderson suggests pulling your blinds down first thing in the morning, so you don’t gain more heat through your windows.
“Close your windows in the morning so that you trap the cooler air indoors,” she says. “Then when it gets cooler outside again in the evening and it gets breezy, open everything right up to bring that cool air into the house.”
Henderson says turning on fans, including the ones in your bathroom and kitchen, will also help move cooler air into your home so that you start the next day at a cooler temperature.
As for keeping your body cool, Henderson adds that it’s important to stay hydrated.
“Drink lots and lots of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty,” she says. “Put a T-shirt under some water and wring it out and put it on. That really helps to cool you down as well as taking a cool shower, bath or anything that will just help your body stay as cool as possible.”
According to Environment Canada, communities in BC’s Interior could see temperatures reach the low to mid-30s this weekend.
Metro Vancouver is forecast to see daytime highs hitting the 30s as well.
“When we are not acclimatized to these warmer temperatures yet, they have a slightly bigger impact on our bodies than when we’ve had a couple weeks of warmer weather, so we do expect people are going to feel this,” says Henderson.
She adds that the primary risk of the hot weather is getting heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
“The human body likes to be 36.6 degrees,” she says. “You want to keep an eye on the signs of overheating…headaches are often one of the first indicators of your body telling you that it’s getting too warm.”
Henderson says hot weather is especially concerning for seniors.
“As we get older, our bodies are less able to thermo-regulate and that’s the process the body uses to keep that core temperature at 36.6 degrees,” she says.
Recent findings from the coroner’s report into the heat dome revealed nearly everyone who died was indoors and most were seniors, many of whom lived alone.
“We do want to keep an eye out for older people in warmer weather because they’re going to have a harder time staying cool than younger and healthier people,” says Henderson.
Henderson is also warning people who plan to get outside this weekend to be careful of the sun.
“It’s the first real sun exposure of the year so remember a hat, sunscreen and long sleeves if you’re really sensitive to the sun.”
Henderson is also warning hikers that with the warmer temperatures, also comes the risk of snow melt.
“There’s still quite a lot of snowpack in the mountains and that’s going to start melting really quickly, so we’re looking at potential flooding in some areas,” she says.
With files from CTV Vancouver’s Penny Daflos