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Heat warning issued for Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley

Last Updated Jun 18, 2018 at 4:47 pm PDT

(iStock Photo)

WorkSafeBC reminds workers heat brings dangers, including risk of heat stroke which can lead to cardiac arrest

LOWER MAINLAND (NEWS 1130) –¬†Environment Canada has now issued a heat warning for all of Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.

Temperatures are expected to hit the low thirties, which is 12 to 14 degrees above normal. Nighttime won’t bring much relief, and temperature records are likely to be broken.

In the Interior, temperatures are expected to hit about 35 degrees. Heat warnings have also been issued for Fort Nelson and the Cariboo and Peace River regions, but some cooling is expected Thursday.

The heat warning is prompting fresh reminders from health workers to avoid the heat as much as we can and drink lots of water. Doctor James Lu, a medical health officer with Vancouver Coastal Health, says 30 degree weather is not usually a problem for other cities used to these conditions.

“People are probably more acclimatized and people probably have more houses with air conditioning in the Interior.” He says if you’re out and about try to pop into places with air conditioning just to give yourself a break.

“Drink lots of water, even when you’re not thirsty,” says Lu.

He’s also asking neighbours to watch out for the elderly, young children and people with chronic illnesses.

“May become dizzy, may get confused or feel hot. Sometimes, they may lose consciousness.”

You should schedule outdoor activities during the cooler parts of the day and never leave people or pets inside a parked vehicle.

Symptoms of heat illness include dizziness/fainting, nausea/vomiting, rapid breathing and heartbeat, extreme thirst, and decreased urination with darker than usual urine.

WorkSafeBC is reminding workers that the heat brings new dangers. The agency’s Dan Strand says higher temperatures raise the risk of someone collapsing on the job.

“Assessing the work, looking at the clothing that the workers are wearing. Looking at the work processes–whether they be welding or digging or physically exerting-type effort and assess that and take necessary precautions to prevent the build-up of heat and heat stress,” he says.

“In occupations such as landscape workers and welders, longshore workers, construction, logging and forestry workers, so those are the types of occupations where, again, the workers are succumbing to heat stress and heat stroke.”

He says certain first aid precautions must be taken when temperatures top 30 degrees.

“Make any physical modifications to your equipment and processes to reduce that heat load. Consider monitoring and changing work practises, work rest cycles comes into it as well and where a worker can take a break away from that hot situation and to cool themselves down.”

Strand says, if you feel dizzy or nauseous, drink some water and find a cool space to recover.

“The best case scenario is that we are preventing these injuries and occurrences from happening and recognize that individuals are all different in terms of both hydration levels, but their levels of fitness and such, but these have to be taken into account to prevent heat stress and heat stroke.”

Some 30 heat stroke-related time-loss claims were filed last year.

There are weather alerts in place in several other BC regions, which has wildfire crews on alert. Outreach teams with the Union Gospel Mission have also been warning the city’s most vulnerable about the dangers of heat, and handing out water.