Here comes the heat: How to stay cool and safe

July 22, 2022

BC’s Public Safety Ministry is warning British Columbians to have a heat plan ready as temperatures reach possibly the hottest of the season so far in many parts of the province. The temperatures could also feel especially hot after a relatively cool and wet couple of months. British Columbians are being encouraged to take precautions including knowing how to prepare for, and stay safe in, extreme heat conditions.

How to prepare for the heat

Here are some things to consider to be better prepared in advance of extreme temperatures:

  • Are any of your loved ones or neighbours at risk? These individuals include the elderly, infants and young children, pregnant women, people with pre-existing health conditions, and people who live alone.
  • Do you know someone who lives alone? If you or a friend or loved one lives alone, make sure to set-up regular check-ins.
  • Can you stay home? If the temperature inside your home reaches 31C degrees or hotter, you should plan to go somewhere cooler.
  • Where can you go to stay cool? If your home is too hot, could you go to a friend or family member’s home, or perhaps seek out an air conditioned public place such as your local shopping mall, community centre, or library, etc.
  • How to prepare your home. There are a few things you can do to cool down your home: install a window or portable air conditioner to keep at least one room in your home cool, install thermal curtains or window coverings, use fans to help move cool air indoors when temps are cooler in the early mornings and late evenings, or install exterior window coverings or reflective films that block the sun from hitting the window, which can be as simple as using cardboard.

How to stay cool and safe when temperatures soar

Too much heat can be harmful to our health. When the body can’t properly cool itself, heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke can occur leading to muscle weakness, dizziness, disorientation, and exhaustion. Severe cases of heat stroke – also known as sunstroke – can be a life-threatening medical emergency. Here are some tips on beating the heat and staying cool:

  • Stay hydrated. Drink extra water even before you feel thirsty, and avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, which cause dehydration and, as a result, can increase your risk of heatstroke.
  • Keep cool. Stay in air-conditioned environments, take cool baths or showers, sleep in the coolest part of your home, sleep with a wet sheet or in a wet t-shirt, and make use of local community pools.  
  • Be smart outdoors. If you must go outside, do so when the temperature is generally cooler such as early in the morning or late in the day. Stick to the shade or seek cooler, breezier areas when possible. And make sure to use sunscreen and dress appropriately in light weight, loose fitting clothes with a hat and UV-protective eyewear. 

Last year’s heat dome shows that our climate is changing, and it is likely that these types of events will become more frequent, possibly last longer, and be even hotter. However, there are many things we can do to prepare for extreme heat conditions that will keep us and our loved ones cool and safe. For more information on how to prepare for extreme heat, visit Prepare BC’s Extreme Heat Preparedness Guide