Extreme Heat

Some areas on the North Shore could experience flooding due to heavy rains, melting snow packs, and storm surges. People often underestimate the power of moving water. Floods can damage property, erode soil, and be contaminated with sewage, pesticides, oil, or chemical waste.

Are You Ready?

A natural disaster can strike at any time, without warning. Learn how to make an emergency kit and plan, and protect yourself, your family, and your property.

Get Alertable

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British Columbia’s summer temperatures are increasing. With the impact of climate change, periods of higher temperatures may become more frequent and last longer. We want to be prepared for extreme heat events and reduce the impact and risk to our health. We can do this by:

When temperatures soar, consider visiting community locations that are cool, or air conditioned. Click here for a map of community cooling locations on the north shore. Be sure to call or check online for hours of operation.

Extreme heat events (or ‘heat waves’) are higher then average temperatures usually experienced between May – September. In our region – Vancouver’s lower mainland – heat alerts have 2 stages:

Level 1: Heat Warning (‘very hot’): 2 or more consecutive days of daytime maximum temperatures of 29° (or warmer) and nighttime temperatures of 16° (or warmer)

Level 2: Extreme Heat Emergency (‘dangerously hot’): ‘Heat warning’ criteria is met, plus daily highs will continue to increase for 3 or more consecutive days

Anyone can suffer from a heat related illness but there are groups in our communities who are at higher risk than others. Heat-vulnerable groups include:

People over 50: The body’s ability to cool itself is impaired as we age; temperatures over 31° can overwhelm our body’s natural cooling systems

People who live alone: heat illness is often not noticed by those who have it

People with pre-existing health conditions: this may include diabetes, heart or respiratory disease, schizophrenia, pregnancy, limited mobility, depression, anxiety, substance use disorders (including alcohol)

People with limited mobility: less able to access cool spaces

Infants and Toddlers: this group is dependent on adults to keep them cool and hydrated

People who overexert during work or exercise: especially when working outdoors or in hot indoor environments

Stock Up!

Key supplies to get before the hot weather arrives includes:

  • Indoor digital thermometer (31°or higher is dangerous for vulnerable people)
  • Spray bottle
  • Electrolyte power
  • A fan and / or portable air conditioner
  • Loose, breathable, natural fiber clothing (i.e., cotton, linen) 

Prepare Your Home

A few modifications can make a big difference during periods of extreme heat. Consider:

  • Installing window coverings; prepare to block the sun’s warming rays using blinds, heavy curtains, or reflective film
  • Installing a window air conditioner in at least 1 room
  • Having fans to maximize the circulation of cool morning and evening air

Keep Cool and Hydrated

  • Drink plenty of cool fluids, especially water (avoid sugary, caffeinated, or alcoholic drinks)
  • Take cool baths or showers to bring your body temperature down
  • Wet your clothing during the day, or sheets at night
  • If you don’t have air conditioning, go to a local library,  community centre, or mall
  • Check twice a day on friends and family members who are elderly or have special needs

At Home:

  • Monitor indoor temperatures: heat risks increase at 26°, and significantly increase at 31°; consider staying with family or friends if you are in an ‘at risk’ group and live in a building where inside temperatures might be above 31°
  • Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, or awnings
  • Sleep in your home’s coolest location (usually the lowest part)
  • Wear loose natural fibre clothing that breathes well
  • Limit stove or oven use

Away From Home

  • Spend time in shaded and breezy outdoor spaces
  • Stay in climate-controlled buildings as long as possible; find a list of north shore cooling locations here
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher)
  • Wear light weight, loose fitting, light-coloured clothing
  • Reduce, eliminate, or reschedule strenuous activities to the coolest time of the day
  • If working outside, monitor co-workers and have them do the same for you

Stay Connected

  • Live alone? Find an extreme heat buddy; check in on each other a few times a day
  • Do you have vulnerable family members in a higher risk group? Check in, ideally in person
  • Be a good neighbour; check in on friends / neighbours
  • Got air conditioning? Share it!

Caring For Pets

  • Never leave pets in parked cars during hot temperatures
  • Bring pets inside during the hottest time of the day
  • Provide plenty of fresh water and shade for outdoor pets

On hot days your body has to work harder to maintain a normal temperature. You may find yourself breathing rapidly, feeling weak, faint, confused, or headachy. Heat stroke and heat exhaustion can follow. Heat illness has two stages – know the symptoms and act accordingly.

Heat Exhaustion – Symptoms and Actions

Heat exhaustion is ‘of concern’; call 8-1-1 or your health care provider of you experience or witness the following symptoms:

  • Headache, dizziness, difficulty concentrating
  • Rapid breathing and heartbeat
  • Skin rash, heavy sweating
  • Extreme thirst, nausea or vomiting 
  • Dark urine and decreased urination
  • Muscle cramps

Anyone with these symptoms should be moved to a cool space, given plenty of water to drink, and cooled down with water applied to the skin.

Refer to Vancouver Coast Health / extreme heat for additional detail.

Heat Stroke: Symptoms and Actions

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness as your body is unable to control it’s temperature. Call 9-1-1 or seek immediate medical attention for this medical emergency. Symptoms include:

  • High body temperature
  • Fainting or decreased consciousness
  • Confusion
  • Lack of coordination
  • Very hot and red skin

Call 911 or seek medical attention. While waiting for help, submerge some or all of the body in cool water, remove clothes and apply wet towels.

Refer to Vancouver Coast Health / extreme heat for additional detail.

Learn more about extreme heat