Chilliwack, Hope and Agassiz are experiencing a mix of high temperatures and drifting wildfire smoke this week. (Jessica Peters/ The Progress)

Chilliwack residents warned to take precautions against heat

Temperatures begin to rise this week, as wildfire smoke fills valley

Chilliwack is likely to see record-breaking temperatures this week, and residents are being advised to stay cool.

And on Tuesday, residents in the Fraser Valley woke up to a thick cover of wildfire smoke that has settled into the region. In addition to the high heats expected, the air quality around Chilliwack, Agassiz and Hope is rated at 7, or high. (The rating system uses a 1-10 format).

The health risks are high.

“Everyone is at risk of heat related illness,” Environment Canada warned on Monday, as forecasts pushed toward 40 degrees here. But there are numerous groups who need to take special precautions in high temperatures. The most vulnerable include young children, the elderly who are housebound in un-air-conditioned homes, those working or exercising in the heat, persons with chronic heart and lung conditions, persons with mental illness, people living alone in un-air-conditioned homes and the homeless.

People taking certain medications, particularly for mental illness, heart disease or Alzheimer’s disease, are asked to contact their doctor or pharmacist for recommendations.

But mostly everybody will be looking for ways to beat the heat.

Fraser Health offers a few tips on keeping cool, including seeking out air-conditioned facilities. That can be a shopping centre, library, community centre, restaurant or even catching a matinée at a movie theatre. They recommend spending at least a few hours every day in air-conditioned areas.

They also suggest splash pools, water parks, and pools, along with cool baths or showers at home.

Fans alone are not effective, they add. But applying cool water mist or wet towels to your body prior to sitting in front of a fan is a quick way to cool off. Dress in loose, light-weight clothing, and remember those hats and sunglasses.

If windows are kept open, ensure children cannot access them.

Avoid tiring work or exercise in the heat. If you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of non-alcoholic fluids each hour. Limit outdoor activity during the day to early morning and evening.

Stay hydrated, and never leave any child or pet alone in a parked car. Temperatures can rise to 52°C (125°F) within 20 minutes in an enclosed vehicle when the outside temperature is 34°C (93°F). Leaving the car windows slightly open or “cracked” will not keep the inside of the vehicle at a safe temperature.

Fraser Health also asks that people check on others, especially those living alone, older people, and those with mental illness. If someone is unwell, move them to a cool shady spot, help them get hydrated and call for medical assistance if required.

This week’s heat wave caused the special weather alert for all of the Fraser Valley and the south coast. Environment Canada says it’s due to a massive ridge of high pressure building over southern B.C. through Thursday. Daytime maximum temperatures will soar into the mid to upper 30s by Wednesday over communities in the Fraser Valley, Howe Sound – Whistler and inland Vancouver Island.

“Daily temperatures records from Tuesday to Thursday will probably be broken in many communities,” they stated. “And the all time records for the month of August may be threatened, too. For example, the highest August temperature ever recorded at Abbotsford is 36.3 degrees and the forecast for Thursday is 36.”

It could also lead to an increased fire risk, with the lack of rainfall. That will likely keep the southern end of the province in the high to extreme fire danger ratings.


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

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