How to stay safe during BC’s third heat wave

August 10, 2021

Environment Canada has issued yet another heat warning for much of southern BC as temperatures are expected to soar to the high 30s C and even low 40s C Wednesday through the weekend. They have also cautioned that there is expected to be little relief at night increasing the potential for heat-related illnesses.

When your body can’t properly cool itself, heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke can occur and can lead to muscle weakness, dizziness, disorientation, and exhaustion. In severe cases of heat stroke – also known as sunstroke – it can be a life-threatening medical emergency. And with temperatures as high as Environment Canada is warning, these heat-illnesses can affect anyone, especially those considered high risk: young children, pregnant women, older adults, and people with chronic illnesses.


Health officials are urging British Columbians to be vigilant this time around and follow these tips for beating the heat and staying cool:

  • Stay hydrated. Drink extra water even before you feel thirsty and avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages as they are diuretics which remove water from the body, and therefore actually increase your risk of heatstroke.
  • Keep cool. Stay indoors in air-conditioned buildings, make use of local pools or take a cool bath or shower. Remember, sunscreen will protect against the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays but not from the heat.
  • Avoid sunburn. Stay in the shade and make sure to use a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher on exposed skin.
  • Avoid exercising outdoors. Exercising indoors where it’s air-conditioned or with a fan is preferrable, but if you absolutely must exercise outside, try to stay in shady areas, and do so in the early morning or later evening when temperatures are a bit cooler. 
  • Dress appropriately. Wear lightweight, light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing, sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat, or use an umbrella for shade.

While it’s fun to enjoy the heat, it’s important to also be sun smart and to also keep an eye on high risk family and friends. If you’re concerned about you or someone you know having a possible heat-related illness, make sure to contact your health care provider or your nearest emergency room right away. For more information visit HealthLinkBC’s page on Heat-related Illness.