Province says B.C. ‘fully prepared’ for hottest day of latest heatwave

Province says B.C. ‘fully prepared’ for hottest day of latest heatwave

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The South Coast is gearing up for what could be the hottest day in this latest heatwave, and the B.C. government says it’s prepared.

Thursday temperatures are expected to rise into the mid to high-30s across the region and could feel like the low-40s, while overnight conditions aren’t expected to dip below 17 C. However, conditions aren’t predicted to turn into another heat dome like in June.

Smoke from Interior wildfires is drifting into the region, which could cause slightly cooler temperatures, but is impacting air quality.

Not wanting a repeat of the deadly first heatwave of the year, the province is out warning people the high temperatures can be dangerous. This includes advertisements warning people about the dangers of the heat.

It also says additional resources are being brought in to handle an expected spike in medical emergency calls.

“All of our health services at our health authorities are fully prepared to help anyone who might experience heat or smoke related challenges. In acute care, staff is being increased in ERs to meet expected demand, and additional measures are being taken to keep people in hospital, cool, and safe,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said Wednesday.

“Paramedics and dispatchers are on deck to get to help quickly to people who call for it. Provincial and Emergency Operations Centers remain active. More clinicians will be stationed in dispatch centers, again, to make sure the response you get is the most helpful one. Managers will be working in hospital ERs again, which helps people who need immediate medical attention, get out of ambulances and into care as quickly as possible, and helps keep our ambulances on the road. The chief ambulance officers also are preparing paramedics do their work in the hotter weather again, taking care of the people who take care of us.”

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry urged people to do things like drink lots of water, stay in shade, and check up on vulnerable loved ones.

“We know these anticipated temperatures can caused negative health outcomes. Many people here are not acclimatized to this type of temperature, particularly when it doesn’t cool down at night,” she said.

The province was bombarded with criticism after at least 569 people, many seniors, who lived alone, died during the heat dome. Many felt it was because there wasn’t enough warning and preparation. Ambulance services were overwhelmed and Premier John Horgan was accused of not doing more to warn people of the dangers of heat or providing spaces for people to escape the heat.

In the days that followed, the province promised action, including additional paramedics and dispatchers.

Troy Clifford with the Ambulance Paramedics Union says the hiring is happening, but not fast enough for this heatwave. He says they’re definitely expecting an increased number of calls over the next few days, and warns this could once again mean delays in getting paramedics to calls.

In the interim, Clifford says they will be breaking union rules to bring on as much staff as possible this week.

Cities across the region have also set up cooling centres and spray parks. You can find a complete list here.

People are urged to take precautions like staying indoors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., wear sunscreen of at least 30 SPF, and drink lots of water. They should also monitor for signs of heat-related illness such as dizziness, nausea, headache, shortness of breath, swelling of hands and feet and extreme thirst.