We waited for it all winter long. But now that it’s here, the summer heat may not be so welcome after all.
Environment Canada has put out a special weather warning for the West Kootenay as temperatures soar into the mid-to-upper 30s, and are expected to stay there for some time.
The temperatures have Southeast Fire District crews on high alert, as the fire danger in many areas rises to extreme.
“We have not put a campfire ban in place yet, but fire officials are closely monitoring the situation on a daily basis,” says BC Wildfire Information Officer Karlie Shaughnessy. “People should check our website (www.bcwildfire.com) before heading out to camp on the weekend to get the latest status.”
The high temperatures also mean everyone should be taking precautions not to get heat-related illness.
“Illness can result when the body gains heat faster than it can cool itself down,” says Dr. Sue Pollock, a medical health officer with Interior Health. “This can lead to weakness, disorientation, and exhaustion.”
“As the heat-related illness increases in intensity, they may experience things like confusion, disorientation, even hallucinations, and this can even lead to seizures and decreased consciousness.”
This weather especially puts seniors, infants and the infirm at risk, as well as people working outdoors.
At the City of Trail, the issue of how to work in hot weather is being raised at the weekly crew safety talks.
“The crew is always reminded to prepare accordingly: to keep their water bottles full, wear appropriate clothing, sunglasses and head covering as required for the type of work and site specific location they are working,” says Bryan Maloney, the Purchasing and Mechanical Superintendent. “I also remind the crew to watch out for one another and to seek shade or air-conditioned locations when they need to cool down. Most importantly hydrate – keep the fluids flowing throughout the work day.”
Even playing in the hot weather requires some special precautions.
About 30 kids, aged 6-12 have been taking part in Camp Cawabunga at the City of Trail every day. But they’ve been able to avoid problems with sunburns and heat this year by keeping to a strict preventative schedule, says recreation co-ordinator Lisa Manaigre.
“We have a chart, so throughout the day, we have five times the kids come in, there’s a checklist, one is for applying sunscreen, one for a water break, etc., in the morning and during the day,” she told the Times. “They come in and do the checklist, then continue with the activities.
“We find if you set a time during the day it helps leaders remember.”
It also helps that Gyro Park is so well shaded, she says.
It’s hard enough for humans to keep cool, imagine wearing a fur coat in this weather. Pets need shade and water, says the Trail SPCA spokesperson Danielle Jackman.
The good news is, that message seems to be getting across. Often they’ll get calls for animals in heat distress— but not this year.
“I think people realize it’s hot out, so they’re taking precautions,” Jackman told the Trail Times. “That’s good to see. In past years we received many calls for dogs in vehicles, or outside dogs without shade or water. We’ll attend those calls, but in the last few days there haven’t been many of those.
Jackman says signs an animal under stress are lethargy, panting or breathing hard, and in heat stroke you may notice their eyes rolling back in their head, or loss of consciousness.
Make sure you provide water and shelter for your animals at all times, she says. Bring outside dogs inside during extreme heat, or provide them with a kiddie pool to cool off in.
Anyone concerned about an animal’s welfare in this heat can call the SPCA Cruelty hotline at 1-800-622-7722.