With heat warnings in effect, B.C. businesses take measures to protect employees and customers

‘A dangerous long-duration heat wave’ is blistering the province and is expected to begin tapering off Tuesday, Environment Canada says

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With the temperature spiking in the 40s on Monday, Patina Brewing in Port Coquitlam opened its doors early in the morning, on a day it is normally closed, so people working remotely could enjoy the benefit of the brewhouse’s air conditioning.

It will keep opening at 9 a.m. the rest of this work week to give home-based workers some respite from the swelter with a spot to plug in and get some work done without sweating all over their keyboards.

Bring a coffee and enjoy not melting away, said Patina’s CEO and co-owner Kyle Logan.

“One of our core values is community,” Logan said as 10 people scattered around the brewhouse tapped away on laptops. “My wife is working from home right now, and she suggested she come here to work with the air conditioning.

“She said, ‘Know what? What if we invite the community around us to come work here, anyone who needs some AC.’”

But while those businesses with air conditioning are welcome oases of chill, some businesses without it have been forced to shut.


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WorkSafeBC advised employers to close down if workers couldn’t be protected from heat stress. In the last three years, there have been close to 100 claims accepted for work-related injuries caused by heat stress, WordSafeBC said, and these are preventable injuries.

“All workers are potentially at risk,” said Al Johnson, head of prevention services. “If not recognized and treated early, heat stress can lead to heat exhaustion and heatstroke.”

At least 30 construction contractors around the province are limiting operations, said Erin Linde, director of health and safety services with the B.C. Construction Safety Alliance.

“It sounds like most companies are working only to noon or with skeleton crews that can work indoors or in the shade, or work that is not strenuous,” she said. “All these companies seem to have stopped any heavy labour after noon.”


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One retail business that shut down was Town and Country Vintage Home in Maple Ridge, which has no air conditioning. Its doors were shut on Sunday and Monday to keep staff and customers safe, while the PoCo location remained open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. because it is fully air conditioned.

Naomi Corr, the owner of both stores, said she will post updates on the stores’ social media sites, depending on the comfort level of staff and customers.

“First COVID and now this. But the community is important to me. It can’t always be about money, their safety is more important to me,” she said.

The province’s restaurants, meanwhile, found themselves closing some new outdoor areas on Sunday and Monday, along with kitchens that are too hot to work in.


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“We’re seeing a number of restaurants close their kitchens during the daytime and maybe open them back up at night,” said Ian Tostenson, president and CEO of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association. “The patios, and in some cases kitchens, were just way too hot.

“It’s hard to tell how many, but we’re seeing that all across B.C. It’s not just one or two, a lot have.”

Around the province, paramedics responded to 187 heat-exhaustion and 52 heatstroke calls from Friday to Monday morning, according to B.C. Emergency Health Services. On Sunday alone, the organization responded to almost 107 calls for heat exhaustion and 32 calls for heatstroke.

To put the numbers in context, last June, Emergency Health Services responded to 14 heat-related calls. So far this June, that number sits at 304.


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The duration of this heatwave is concerning because with temperatures cooling at night to levels that would be considered a hot daytime high, the record-breaking heat will increase the potential for related illnesses, Environment Canada warned.

“Drink plenty of water even before you feel thirsty, and stay in a cool place,” the federal weather agency said. “Check on older family, friends and neighbours. Make sure they are cool and drinking water.”

Never leave children, elderly people or pets inside a parked vehicle, and outdoor workers should take regularly scheduled breaks in a cool place.

Symptoms of heat illness include: Dizziness/fainting; nausea/vomiting; rapid breathing and heartbeat; extreme thirst; decreased urination with unusually dark urine.

HealthLink B.C. has online resources about heat-related illness and how to protect yourself from succumbing, or you can call them at 8-1-1 for information.

If your symptoms are not mild, last longer than one hour, change, worsen, or cause you concern, contact a health-care provider. In an emergency, call 9-1-1.




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