Weather experts predict more extreme heat as the summer progresses, with older people and people with disabilities left most at risk.
Mayor Maureen Pinkney says that 100 Mile House has a high senior population, which led her to collaborate with Interior Health to ensure the well-being and health of all residents by offering make-shift “heat kits” to combat future heat domes.
“These little kits are a plastic storage box; everything can be brought inside and out when things are smoky, or even in an emergency, you’ll have things like water, a mask for bad air. When it’s really hot, something as simple as putting your feet in cold water can help to cool your body temperature down,” she said.
100 Mile House saw a daytime high near 30 C this July and overnight lows near 14 C, and like other areas of the province, have had a mix of smoky conditions.
“Something so simple could save someone’s life, and of course, helping our seniors is crucial for us,” said Pinkney.
Seniors, people with mental health conditions, and children are most vulnerable to being harmed by extreme heat. The 2021 heat dome claimed 619 lives across the province as temperatures record temperatures surpassed 40 C for several days in late June and early July in B.C. This year is no different, with the global heat record breaking this June again with a worldwide heat average of 17.18 C. WorkSafe B.C. is also warning outdoor workers who are more at risk of heat stress as the temperatures increase.
Interior Health’s B.C. Provincial Heat Alert and Response System 2023 lays out what Environment and Climate Change Canada will use to issue during an extreme heat emergency. Many municipalities are in the process of developing their own heat response plans.
Pinkney says they are collaborating with Interior Health, which has joined Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health, encouraging residents to collect things to make their very own kit, such as a thermometer, cooling towels, gel compresses, a water bottle, and a spray bottle, which are all things you could create yourself or purchase at a dollar store.
Extreme heat can trigger several health problems, such as heat stroke and dehydration, and even worsen preexisting health conditions. Pinkney says that having something lightweight and accessible is critical. Seniors and people with mobility issues or those who don’t drive are at a greater risk because they have a more difficult time changing their environment. Interior Health suggests downloading the WeatherCAN app to receive updates for upcoming heat alerts for your community directly to your phone.
Mayor Pinkney plans to put special announcements and information throughout their Facebook and District of 100 Mile homepage to get the word out. She says everyone subscribed will get a notice when the heat reaches a specific temperature. In the meantime, Pinkney says they’re working towards encouraging people to make their own kits before they have a more tangible plan they can share with the public.
For more information on summer safety tips to help protect yourself from the heat, visit interiorhealth.ca, or go to Environment Canada’s weather information page to stay updated on all the latest weather alerts in your area.