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Hot button topic: heat spell a flash in the pan for West Kootenay climate

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
August 15th, 2023

It’s hot times in the city — and the country — as the warmest weather this year grips the region, but there is a cool lining to the latest hot potato.

With daily high temperatures nudging 40 degrees Celsius across the West Kootenay region this week — a meteoric rise which began on Sunday — it won’t replicate the oven which cooked the Kootenay one year ago.

“While the heat is not forecast to be as severe as during the 2021 heat dome, high temperatures are associated with higher risk of heat-related illness, especially over a prolonged period,” noted a press release from EmergencyInfoBC.

Although Environment and Climate Change Canada put in place heat warnings for parts of British Columbia on the weekend, high temperatures are moving across the southern Interior through the week — expecting to last until Saturday, Aug. 19.

The end of that heat cycle could see a few days of solid precipitation, a welcome light at the end of the current heat tunnel, according to Environment Canada forecasts.

The people most at risk during the hot days include: older adults (especially if they live alone); people with health conditions (such as mental illness, substance-use disorder, physical disabilities, cognitive impairment, respiratory disease, heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes); women who are pregnant; and infants and young children.

Plan to stay cool

Identify cool zones inside your home or nearby, such as a shaded outdoor location or air-conditioned space where you can cool off on hot days.

Despite a map of cooling centres throughout B.C. available on EmergencyInfoBC: www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca/, none are listed for the West Kootenay, including Castlegar and Nelson.

However, there are places people can go, including libraries, community centres, religious spaces, movie theatres or shopping malls.

Residents can shut windows and close curtains or blinds during the heat of the day to block the sun and to prevent hotter outdoor air from coming inside. Open doors and windows, and use fans when it is cooler outside to move cooler air indoors.

Ahead of time people can cool down by applying cool cloths and drinking plenty of water, and during the heat check in regularly with vulnerable family members and neighbours.

During the heat never leave children or pets alone in a parked car.

Heat warning for Kootenay Lake

Temperatures reaching 35 degrees Celsius combined with overnight lows near 18 degrees Celsius are expected, EmergencyInfoBC noted on Monday, with a “prolonged heat wave” persisting until Thursday in the Kootenay Lake region.

The threat is daytime temperatures are expected to climb within the range of 36 to 38 degrees Celsius, accompanied by a nearly 20 degree drop overnight.

“A robust high-pressure ridge across the southern interior is expected to persist through Thursday,” a press release from EmergencyInfoBC read.

By Friday, temperatures are forecasted to revert to more typical seasonal levels.

• The Province’s Extreme Heat Preparedness Guide has information to help people prepare for heat and tips on how to stay safe. The guide is available online:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-management/preparedbc/know-your-hazards/severe-weather/extreme-heat

Heat exhaustion

With higher temperatures, there is higher risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which can come on rapidly.

Signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, headache, muscle cramps, feeling unwell, extreme thirst and dark urine. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should try to cool down immediately by seeking a cooler environment, drinking plenty of water, resting and use water to cool their body.

Signs of heat stroke include a high body temperature, confusion, dizziness/fainting and flushed skin. Heat stroke is a medical emergency. If you witness someone with these symptoms, call 911. While waiting for help, start cooling the person immediately. Move them to a cool place, if you can, and apply ice packs and damp cloths to large areas of the skin.

Source: EmergencyInfoBC

Categories: General

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