Week-long heat wave on Salt Spring, Southern Gulf Islands

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Salt Spring and the Southern Gulf Islands are under a heat alert with daytime highs reaching to 29 degrees Celcius from Tuesday through to Saturday. 

Environment Canada issued a weather alert early Tuesday morning warning of daytime highs inland of 31 to 25 and near the water of 25 to 29 degrees Celcius. The heat is caused by a strong ridge of high pressure which is expected to ease off as a cooling trend comes in time for the B.C. Day long weekend. 

The weather agency stated that the hottest times of day are late afternoon to early evening. While extreme heat affects everyone, people at greater risk are “young children, pregnant women, older adults, people with chronic illnesses and people working or exercising outdoors.” 

Effects of heat-related illness can include “swelling, rash, cramps, fainting, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and the worsening of some health conditions,” Environment Canada stated. 

HealthLinkBC stated that most heat-related illnesses happen indoors in places without air conditioning, especially when several days of heat lead to build up indoors that can become dangerous. Working in hot environments or working outdoors can also be risky environments during times of extreme heat. 

There are a variety of ways to reduce the risk of heat-related illness including keeping cool by staying in air conditioned buildings or taking cold baths or showers, drinking plenty of fluids, wearing lightweight and loose fitting clothing and using hats and umbrellas for shade. Activities to avoid include hard work or exercise, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., as well as sunburns if exposed to the direct sun. HealthLinkBC also recommends to check on older adults, children and others at risk especially in the early evening as indoor temperatures are the highest then, and to never leave “children, dependent adults, or pets alone in a parked car” even with windows slightly open. Temperatures can rise to 52 degrees Celcius within 20 minutes inside a car, if outdoor temperatures are around 34.  

People worried about heat-related illness can also call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 to speak to a nurse, or 9-1-1 for emergencies. For more detail, see www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthlinkbc-files/heat-related-illness

Other parts of the province are also under heat warnings including east and inland Vancouver Island as well as Greater Victoria and several areas on the mainland. 

Last year’s extreme heat event in late June to July 1 resulted in at least 569 heat-related deaths across B.C. according to the BC Coroners Service. Of those who passed away, 79 per cent were 65 years or older Human Rights Watch stated in a special report that called out inadequate government support for people with disabilities and elderly people that compounded the risks of extreme heat. 

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