AS the region continues to experience high temperatures and reduced air quality, the City of Vancouver is expanding its services so that residents and visitors are safe over the long weekend.
“The City’s first priority is to keep residents cool and safe as air quality and extreme heat warnings in Vancouver persist,” says Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. “The City is boosting our efforts to make sure all residents, and especially the most vulnerable, have access to public amenities and facilities to cool off and take a drink of water. This long weekend, I encourage all residents to look out for each other and if you see someone suffering from signs of heatstroke or respiratory illness, seek immediate help.”
Despite it being a statutory holiday on Monday, the City’s community cooling centres will be open and offering access to air-conditioned rooms so that people can cool down.
Vancouver plays host to several large events this weekend, including the Pride Parade, Celebration of Lights and the Powell Street Festival, and steps are being taken to ensure that attendees can enjoy themselves safely. The City is installing extra temporary water fountains and providing additional resources such as sunscreen and water to volunteers at these events.
Event organizers are also taking steps to beat the heat, as Kieran Burgess, Executive Director for Operations at Vancouver Pride Society, explains: “The Vancouver Pride Society has ensured that there are many ways to beat the heat at our events. We have a misting station set up, shaded viewing available, many vendors selling water at our event sites and an experienced first aid team working with BC Ambulance to make sure that everybody at our events are safe this weekend.”
Other additional measures and resources that the City is putting in place to ensure the public remains cool and hydrated include:
* Cooling centres have opened at air-conditioned community centres and libraries. Locations and hours are available on the City website <http://vancouver.ca/
* Emergency service personnel and volunteers at events will be particularly vigilant for people exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion.
* Eight temporary water fountains have been installed. The locations of these, and the permanent fountains, can be found on the City website <http://vancouver.ca/
* Water and sunscreen are available for homeless and vulnerable people at the City’s community centres in the Downtown East Side.
* A hot weather support plan has been implemented for tenants at The City’s housing operations.
* Push-button operated misting stations have been installed at Andy Livingstone Park, Oppenheimer Park, Thornton Park and Emery Barnes Park.
As well as making use of the City’s services, everyone who is out and about this weekend is encouraged to prepare for the hot and smoky conditions.
“The best way to prevent heat-related illness is to be aware and plan to stay cool, stay hydrated, and look out for those most vulnerable, including infants and young children, the elderly and people with chronic respiratory, cardiac or mental illness,” says Dr. Réka Gustafson, medical health officer, Vancouver Coastal Health.
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 <http://vancouver.ca/
– Find a pool or water park <http://vancouver.ca/
– Take your dog to an off-leash park<http://vancouver.ca/
The City is also reminding people that open fires are banned due to the extremely dry conditions and that smoking is prohibited in all parks and on beaches. People caught smoking are subject to a $250 ticket, as well as a further $500 fine if cigarette butts are not correctly disposed.
For detailed information on health safety during hot weather, visit Vancouver Coastal Health’s hot weather information <http://www.vch.ca/
For more information on avoiding heat in the city, visit the City of Vancouver’s summer heat webpage <http://vancouver.ca/
For updates on air quality across the region, visit the Metro Vancouver website <http://www.
The City’s mobile app VanConnect has a warm weather forecast link on its homepage. Download VanConnect to view the locations of all drinking fountains, water parks and wading pools, and community centres in one convenient spot.