Heat waves are expected to become more frequent as our climate continues to change. The City of Port Coquitlam has developed an Extreme Heat Plan to help citizens during heat waves, which are generally defined as a period where the temperatures are at or above 32 C for more than three consecutive days.
The plan includes providing cooling centres and portable water fountains, and educating residents on how to prevent heat illnesses. Information will be publicized in the community and posted on this webpage whenever Environment Canada and the Medical Health Officer call a heat advisory for the region.
With the right precautions, heat illnesses are preventable.
The following information was provided by Health Canada.
During a heat wave:
- Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of cool liquids, especially water, before feeling thirsty to avoid dehydration. Avoid beverages with caffeine or alcohol. Thirst is not a good indicator of dehydration.
- Slow down: Your body can't function as well in high temperatures.
- Keep cool: Cool down in an air-conditioned location such as a store, library or a recreation centre (e.g. Hyde Creek or PoCo Rec Complex/Wilson Centre). At home, take a cool shower or bath.
- Avoid sun exposure. Shade head and face with a wide-brimmed breathable hat or umbrella when outdoors. Seek out shade and use sunscreen that is SPF 15 or higher to avoid sunburns, which decrease the body’s ability to cool itself.
- 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). If this is not possible, reduce the duration and intensity of the activity.
- Prepare meals that don’t need to be cooked in the oven.
- Block out sun by closing awnings, curtains or blinds during the day.
- Get informed: Call HealthLink BC at 811 or visit their website. Call 604-927-5411 for information about cooling centres and portable water fountains in the community.
Before a heat wave:
Ensure your fans and/or air conditioner in your home, car and office are in working order, and replace/repair if necessary.
If you are taking medication or have a health condition, ask your doctor or pharmacist if it increases your health risk in the heat, and follow their recommendations.
Heat stroke is a medical emergency. Call 911 if you are caring for someone who has a high body temperature and is either unconscious, confused or has stopped sweating.
While waiting for help, cool the person right away by:
- moving them to a cool place if you can,
- applying cold water to large areas of the skin or clothing, and
- fanning the person as much as possible.
Common heat illnesses
Heat illnesses include heat stroke (see above), heat exhaustion, heat fainting, heat edema (swelling of hands, feet and ankles), heat rash and muscle cramps.
Watch for symptoms of heat illness, which include:
- dizziness or fainting,
- nausea or vomiting,
- rapid breathing and heartbeat,
- extreme thirst, and
- decreased urination with unusually dark yellow urine.
If you experience any of these symptoms during a heat wave, immediately move to a cool place and drink liquids. Water is best.
Emergency Program Officer