Safety tips offered for extreme heat ahead

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Community organizations on Salt Spring are urging everyone to stay safe and keep cool during the extreme heat wave predicted to start on Friday. 

Environment Canada has issued a warning indicating that regions in B.C. including Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands are expected to see temperatures around 10 degrees higher than normal. The forecast has the mercury hitting 29 degrees Celsius on Friday and as high as 33 on Saturday and Sunday. Temperatures are predicted to remain in the high 20s through Tuesday. 

The Salt Spring Emergency Program is reminding people to stay hydrated and take other precautions.

“We encourage everyone to enjoy the weather in a safe way; remember to drink lots of water, apply sunscreen and stay out of the sun as required,” said program coordinator Charles Nash.

Nash also advises checking out Vancouver Coastal Health’s information on how to beat the heat online.

People are not the only ones who will be suffering during the heat wave and the BC SPCA is asking people to take special care when it comes to pets in cars. 

BC SPCA communications manager Lorie Chortyk reports, “Last year, the BC SPCA responded to more than 800 calls about animals in distress in hot cars. The temperature in a parked car, even in the shade with windows partially open, can rapidly reach a level that can seriously harm or even kill a pet.”

Because dogs have no sweat glands, they can only cool themselves by panting and by releasing heat through their paws.

“Dogs cannot withstand high temperatures for long periods, particularly older pets and brachycephalic breeds such as pugs, bulldogs, Boston terriers and others with compressed faces,” Chortyk said.

Salt Spring BC SPCA branch manager Jerry Lewandowski reminds people that his staff cannot break into locked cars to rescue at-risk pets and it is illegal for any member of the public to do so.

Anyone who sees a pet that may be in danger they should notify the RCMP or the SPCA call centre at 1-855-622-7722. Concerned people can also note the license plate and ask local business owners to page the driver. 

Pets that show signs of heat stroke should be moved immediately to a cool, shady place, wetted with cool water and fanned to promote evaporation. Ice should not be applied. Pets can drink some cool water and should be examined by a veterinarian.

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