Northwest urges seniors and caregivers to prepare for rising temperatures
B.C. is facing a heatwave this week, with temperatures soaring to 40 degrees. B.C.’s Senior Advocate is urging seniors to prepare for these rising temperatures.
Currently, forecasted temperatures are not expected to rise to the level of an extreme heat emergency, however, they are forecasted to be higher than normal. In turn, this is projected to create heatwave conditions in certain areas in the Northwest.
“I encourage seniors and their loved ones to ensure they are prepared for the hot weather,” said Isobel Mackenzie, BC Seniors Advocate. “Please check regularly – in person if possible – on elderly family members and friends to make sure they can stay cool and hydrated. If the forecasted heat wave develops into an extreme heat emergency, the Province will issue an Extreme Heat Emergency Alert which triggers a series of actions by public health officials and local and provincial governments to inform the public and keep people safe. An extreme heat emergency may require people to move family members to a cooling centre or get an air conditioning unit into their home.”
With higher temperatures expected, it is recommended that seniors and other vulnerable groups take additional precautions to keep cool and stay hydrated.
At this time, Northern Health aims to prepare residents for heatwave conditions and encourages a check in system with family and friends.
“We have been working to keep the community members, organizations, facilities, really up-to-date on what's coming forward with the heat event. We encourage families to develop a check-in system for those who are at high risk of heat related illness,” said Abigail Steinberg, Resident Medical Health Officer at Northern Health.
Local senior resident and Happy Gang Center member Diana Penner says heat usually becomes an issue for elderly when they live by themselves or don’t have access to certain resources.
“That's the only time that a hot weather phenomenon might become concerning. Fortunately, their families are often seen stepping in. For us at the center, we are family to those who don't have a family.”
Environment Canada Meteorologist Bobby Sekhon says while it isn't expected to get as hot as last summer's heat dome, it is important to take precautions in the case that temperatures remain high for a longer period of time.
“We know as the climate changes, we can expect more extreme weather more frequently in the future. Now, the heat warning that we have in effect right now is not for heat that's quite as extreme as what we saw last June. That being said, anytime we do have a heat warning in effect, there is that risk of heat-related illness and we do have to take some precautions.”
Penner continues to spend summers with her two grandchildren, taking advantage of the many bodies of water that are spread throughout the Northwest.
“We are blessed with so many wonderful lakes and rivers. Something like Lakelse Lake, sitting 15 minutes from town, has three different sites you can go to with your family and fish, swim, canoe, camp and kayak.”
At this time, local authorities are implementing heat response plans and cooling centres. If you know a senior who needs help with getting groceries, meals or medication, call 2-1-1 to connect with the local Better at Home agency who can offer services and support.