Dangerously high temperatures trigger extreme heat alert for Metro Vancouver

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The temperatures forecast in Metro Vancouver through Sunday “are historically associated with an increase in deaths,” according to a warning from public health officials.

Both Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health are urging residents to check on vulnerable neighbours, and monitor themselves and others for symptoms of heat-related illness after an extreme heat alert was issued Thursday evening. In Vancouver, the city extended the hours at cooling centres in community centres, and the downtown branch of the Vancouver Public Library. The Gathering Place, at 609 Helmcken St., will remain open overnight. 



“Based on previous heat events, the anticipated temperatures are proven to cause negative health outcomes among Lower Mainland residents who may not be acclimatized to temperatures in this range and may not have ready access to measures such as air conditioning,” the statements from health authorities say.

“Heat stress can pose an immediate danger to health and may be fatal. Symptoms of severe heat-related illness can include dizziness, confusion, weakness and fainting or collapsing, including loss of consciousness.”


An alert of this kind is issued when the two-day average of high temperatures is predicted to reach 36°C or higher at the Abbotsford Airport and/or is predicted to reach 31°C or higher at YVR. In addition to the sweltering temperatures, the health authorities are warning that smoke from wildfires makes it even more critical to “take steps to protect both yourself and those who are vulnerable in our communities.”

Anyone worried about crowding at cooling centres, or who is experiencing difficulty breathing while wearing a mask is being advised that the heat is currently more of a health risk than COVID-19.

The warnings come after hundreds of people died suddenly during the heatwave in late June, with the province’s chief coroner saying many of those deaths were heat-related. Those who died were disproportionately seniors who live alone in apartments.

RELATED: Lower Mainland cooling centres, spray parks open amid August heatwave

NEWS 1130 Meteorologist Michael Kuss says the daytime highs are only one part of what makes conditions so dangerous.

“When the temperatures overnight don’t get below what we would consider a traditional room temperature, the body doesn’t cool down the house doesn’t cool down and that’s what we’re looking at — not just tonight but really the next three nights,” he explains, noting lows the temperature will not dip below 20°C.

“This is why we issue an extreme heat alert to try to get the facilities open and the resources available to protect the people the most vulnerable. We saw what happened with the heat dome, this isn’t as extreme or as long-lasting but it’s still almost as dangerous.”

Records were set early Thursday morning, with several places experiencing the hottest Aug. 12 ever recorded. Kuss says the areas with the hottest temperatures are the ones in which smoke from wildfires in the Interior and Washington state was heaviest. An air quality advisory remains in effect.

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