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Heat wave hitting B.C. prompts warnings from Environment Canada

A heat wave hitting the province this week has led to warnings from Environment Canada, including for Metro Vancouver.

Environment Canada meteorologist Bobby Sekhon said the southwest Interior of the province will likely be the hot spot.

“Places like Kamloops, Lytton,” he said. “Those will be approaching temperatures in the high thirties, even touching 40 degrees and overnight not cooling off all that much.”

In Metro Vancouver, daytime highs of up to 35 C inland are expected, and 29 near the water.

While temperatures on the South Coast are not expected to reach last year’s heat dome levels, people are still being advised to take precautions.

“In June 2021, the heat wave then was historic and unprecedented. We saw temperatures five to 10 degrees above what we’re forecasting to see this week,” Sekhon said. “Nonetheless, we still have heat warnings in place through a lot of the province, and that means there is still a risk of heat-related illness.”

In Vancouver, cooling centres are available at community centres and libraries, and misting stations have also been deployed.

The director of the Vancouver Emergency Management Agency Daniel Stevens said in an extreme heat event like last year’s, cooling centres would be open even later, or in some places, around the clock.

“We’ve increased our ways of reaching out to the most vulnerable people in the community and we’ve really focussed our efforts on the areas of town that exhibited the highest number of emergency room visits and deaths,” he said. “So the eastern part of Vancouver and the downtown sort of peninsula area as well.”

People are also being reminded to check in on vulnerable people around them, including seniors, to ensure they stay safe as the temperature rises.

“Look out for the people in the community that you have connections with, your neighbours, your friends and family,” Stevens said. “Make sure that they’re able to deal with the very hot temperatures that are forecast.”

Workers and employers are also being warned to stay aware of the temperature both outside and inside.

WorkSafe’s senior manager of prevention field services Suzana Prpic said they accepted 115 claims related to heat-related stress in 2021, which was up 180 per cent from the previous three years.

“Seventy-one of those claims were due to heat stress that was experienced between June 25 and July 7,” she said. “So a really short period of time when the temperatures spiked.”

Prpic added over one third of the heat-related claims from last year were for indoor workers.

“Indoor environments may be factories, warehouses, restaurant kitchens,” she said. “We’re hoping that the serious heat wave actually raised a lot of awareness around that, because again…if you’re working indoors in those environments heat stress can cause serious injuries and even death.”

WorkSafe is asking employers to monitor conditions, require that employees not work alone, and provide training on identifying heat-stress so everyone is aware of early symptoms of concern. Top Stories

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