New measures implemented to combat hot weather and poor air quality
IN preparation for a long stretch of sunny weather, the City of Vancouver and Vancouver Park Board are preparing to help residents who may struggle with the heat this summer.
This year, the City is undertaking a range of actions to adapt to summers becoming hotter and drier as the climate changes.
A number of new programs have been introduced this year, including:
· Piloting cleaner air rooms at Carnegie Community Centre, the Gathering Place, Mount Pleasant Community Centre and the Central Library. The City has installed high-efficiency particulate air filtering systems at these facilities which offer cleaner air for anyone experiencing respiratory issues.
· Introducing temporary clean air filtration units at many non-market housing locations when air quality advisories are issued.
· Working with Evergreen, a local non-profit, to develop a greater understanding of the needs of Vancouver residents who are most vulnerable to hot weather
The City has already activated 12 temporary water fountains in addition to the 234 permanent fountains across Vancouver. The installation of misting stations in parks is beginning this week and the City is aiming to have twelve stations active within the coming weeks.
Vancouver Fire Rescue Service has launched Splash Zones across the City to allow both big and little kids to cool down and meet the crews. The events, at which aerial trucks spray water on attendees, are scheduled to take place every Thursday evening when the day time temperature is above 25 degrees Celsius. Locations for these events will vary, follow VFRS social media accounts for up-to-date information.
Vancouver has already seen some beach closures this summer. When these occur, the City is alerting the public via VanConnect and on vancouver.ca.
The City is also continuing work to improve water quality in a number of ways, including:
* Further investing in a long-standing sewer separation program
* Launching a multi-year combined sewer overflow mitigation plan called the Vancouver Clean Water plan that brings together regional and national partners as well as expertise from global peers to help accelerate the mitigation of Combined Sewer Overflow events
* Accelerating the implementation of green rainwater infrastructure across the City to capture and slow rainfall, in order to decrease pressure on our pipe system
* Under the City’s One Water initiative, we are investing in increasing water quality monitoring and modelling for our oceans and streams, and making data and information more easily accessible
* Continuing to work to improve the water quality at False Creek including once again offering the City’s free pump-out service aimed at eliminating improper sewage discharges from boats.
The City is also ready to initiate its extreme heat response plan should Environment Canada issue a heat warning which occurs when temperatures reach over 29 degrees Celsius in the daytime and 16 degrees for two consecutive nights.
If an extreme heat warning is issued, the City will take steps to protect residents susceptible to the adverse effects of heat, including:
* Cooling centres will open at air-conditioned community centres and libraries. Locations and hours are available on the City website.
* Emergency service personnel and volunteers are being particularly vigilant for people exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion.
* Community centres in the Downtown East Side will ensure water is available for homeless people, and staff will practice extra vigilance in ensuring the safety of those most at risk.
* The City’s housing operations will also be implementing a hot weather support plan for tenants, including performing increased wellness checks, and providing water. The City will also open cool rooms in many locations and most of these will include temporary portable air filtration units when a poor air quality alert is issued.
* Providing additional information via Vancouver.ca and the VanConnect app to ensure people are aware of heat warnings and can access the information they need.
Tips for staying cool
* Dress for heat: Wear a wide-brimmed hat; lightweight, long-sleeved clothing; and sunscreen.
* Take it easy: Avoid strenuous activity and exercise, particularly if you have a respiratory or cardiac condition or diabetes.
* Stay hydrated: Fill up your water bottle at one of our drinking fountains, including temporary fountains that are set up during heat waves.
* Moderate your alcohol consumption: The effects of hot weather are exacerbated by alcohol therefore drink responsibly.
* Protect your loved ones: Never leave a child or pet in a closed car or in the direct sun.
* Look out for others: Remember that the very young, the elderly, people with chronic respiratory, cardiac and mental illnesses and those who are unable to move to a cool area are most vulnerable. If you see someone struggling, call 9-1-1 and if you can, help the person cool off with water to the face and neck until emergency services arrive.
* Cool off: Visit an air-conditioned community centre or library, or enjoy a wading pool, outdoor pool, water park, or spray park.
– Find an air conditioned facility
– Find a pool or water park
– Take your dog to an off-leash park with water access
Care for your pets
This weather is also hard on animals as they are especially susceptible to heat.
Animals with fur coats are not able to cool themselves down easily and can overheat very quickly, so leaving animals at home can be much safer.
The temperature in a parked car can heat rapidly, so it’s extremely dangerous to leave an animal unattended in a vehicle.
If you see an animal in distress please report it to the BC SPCA immediately.
The following off-leash dog parks have access to water for your pets:
* New Brighton Park
* Crab Park at Portside
* John Hendry Dog Park
* Sunset Beach
* Hadden Park
* Spanish Banks