Heat wave has put elderly, young and those with chronic illnesses at risk

Vulnerable groups like the elderly, infants and children, people with chronic medical illnesses, as well as people working outside like farmers, gardeners and construction workers are being encouraged to stay hydrated and cautious of the rising temperatures.

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As temperatures soared across British Columbia Saturday, health authorities were warning the most vulnerable to stay hydrated and cautious.

Vulnerable groups like the elderly, infants and children, people with chronic medical illnesses, as well as people working outside like farmers, gardeners and construction workers are being encouraged to stay hydrated and cautious of the rising temperatures.

Authorities are urging residents to drink lots of water and check on elderly neighbours, and of course never leave a child or a pet in a parked car.

Temperatures reached 39 C in the Fraser Valley on Saturday, with Vancouver hitting 31.8 C.

Smog covers the Fraser Valley as viewed from Mt. Seymour on Saturday.
Smog covers the Fraser Valley as viewed from Mt. Seymour on Saturday. Photo by Francis Georgian /PNG

Metro Vancouver issued an air quality advisory for eastern Metro Vancouver and the central Fraser Valley because of high concentrations of ground-level ozone.

Residents are advised to avoid strenuous outdoor activities during mid-afternoon to early evening, when ozone levels are highest, especially if breathing feels uncomfortable. Exposure is particularly a concern for people with underlying illnesses and for those who are socially marginalized, such as people experiencing homelessness.

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High concentrations are expected to persist for a few days during the hot and sunny weather. The current weather forecast indicates extremely hot temperatures through at least Monday, the region said.

Metro said ground-level ozone is not emitted directly into the air. It is formed when nitrogen oxides (pollutants emitted when fuels are burned) and volatile organic compounds (emitted from solvents and other sources) react in the air in the presence of sunlight.

The highest levels of ground-level ozone are generally observed between mid-afternoon and early evening on summer days.

People flocked to Ambleside Beach in West Vancouver on Saturday to enjoy the warm temperatures.
People flocked to Ambleside Beach in West Vancouver on Saturday to enjoy the warm temperatures. Photo by Francis Georgian /PNG

Due to the anticipated high temperatures, schools in Mission will be closed on Monday and Fraser Health is rebooking COVID-19 vaccine appointments at the Abbotsford Ag-Rec Centre that were scheduled for 1 p.m. or later Saturday in order to protect the health and safety of staff and clients from elevated internal temperatures in the clinic. Mission School District said it will reopen schools on Tuesday.

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Environment Canada is forecasting a multi-day event of temperatures expected to hit the high 30s and even into the 40s in some areas of B.C. Lytton and Lillooet both hit 43 C on Saturday and are expected to reach 45 C by Monday.

“(Friday’s) temperatures are going to be eclipsed today, and then even further tomorrow, not only just for the daytime highs, but also the overnight lows. We are looking at overnight lows that are at 20, maybe even higher than that in the southwest interior with up to 24 degrees overnight. That is very concerning,” Armel Castellan, warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada said Saturday.

Such overnight lows can be dangerous as they can pose a risk for people of running a deficit when it comes to hydration, Castellan said.

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“Friday was essentially the first day of this very long unprecedented ridge of high pressure. It’s really trapping air and essentially creating a heat dome over B.C., parts of Yukon, Northwest Territories and Alberta.”

B.C. Hydro said that on Friday the peak hourly demand record for June — the hour customers use the most power — was broken for a second time this past week. B.C. Hydro expects the demand for power to increase through the weekend and potentially peak on Monday when temperatures are expected to hit 40 C or higher in some parts of the province.

The current summer record was set on Aug. 18, 2020 when peak hourly demand reached about 7,900 megawatts. Monday’s peak hourly demand could reach up to 8,300 megawatts, shattering the previous record, according to B.C. Hydro.

pdayal@postmedia.com

Twitter: @Pratyush_Dayal_

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