When temperatures rise, it's important to stay cool
Our region is experiencing more frequent days of extreme heat due to climate change.
Use the information below to take steps to reduce the impact of extreme heat on yourself and your community.
Preparing Before Summer
PreparedBC has created the Extreme Heat Preparedness Guide to help individuals, families, and communities get prepared.
- Being aware of family and community members that might be at risk, such as people who live alone, are over 65 years old and who have limited mobility,
- Taking steps to keep your living spaces cool, such as covering windows during the heat of the day and opening them during the cool evenings.
- Knowing where to go to cool down, such as malls, libraries, and green spaces with shade.
Heat Warnings and Extreme Heat Emergencies
Weather-based alerts are issued by Environment Canada. In Victoria, a Heat Warning will be declared when daytime high temperatures are forecasted to reach at least 29 degrees Celsius for two consecutive days, with the nighttime lows not falling below 16 degrees Celsius.
An Extreme Heat Emergency will be issued when the criteria for Heat Warnings are expected to last for 3 or more consecutive days with temperatures continuing to increase.
Cooling Centers and Misting Stations
If an extreme heat emergency is declared, the City of Colwoodwill work with West Shore emergency partners to open cooling centres and misting stations using a staged approach. Locations of heat-related resources will be communicated to residents using the City’s social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook and through the City’s emergency notification system West Shore Alert.
The cooling centres will be air-conditioned indoor spaces for the public when outdoor or indoor temperatures at home become dangerous. Outdoor misting stations and portable drinking fountains will also be operated at key locations throughout the city for those who are out and about.
Use this map to find water fountains and places to cool off throughout the West Shore. Places to Cool off in Langford, Colwood & View Royal - Google My Maps
What do do during extreme heat events
There are many things that you can do to limit the impacts of heat when the temperatures spike. Check out the list below:
- If you do not have air conditioning, find somewhere with air conditioning especially if you are at increased risk. Spend time in cooler indoor spaces in the community like shopping centres or libraries. If you do have air conditioning, consider sharing your space with higher risk friends and family members.
- Sleep in the coolest room of the house, even if that is not your bedroom. Sleeping in the basement or outside will provide relief to the body overnight, if possible. Set that space up for comfort, being sure you have water to drink and easy access to a toilet.
- Shut windows and close shutters, curtains, or blinds in the morning to keep cooler air in and to keep the sun out. Leaving windows open during the day lets the hot air indoors. Open windows and doors when the outdoor temperature goes down below the indoor temperature at night.
- Make meals that do not need to be cooked in an oven.
- Protect yourself from the sun by staying in the shade, avoiding direct sun mid-day, wearing a hat and protective clothing, using sunscreen, and wearing UV-protective eyewear.
- Seek cooler, breezier areas when outdoors, such as large parks with water features and lots of trees.
- Important: If you are experiencing extreme heat during an air quality advisory, prioritize cooling down. Heat is typically more dangerous than short-term exposure to poor air quality.
- If you cannot access air conditioning and/or a cool room, consider:
- wearing a damp shawl or shirt
- sitting in a cool or tepid bath to draw heat from the body into the water
- taking a cool shower
- using a damp sheet at night
- putting an ice tray in front of a fan
- using a personal mister or spray bottle
- Important: While fans can help you feel more comfortable, they do not work to lower body temperature for older people at temperatures over 35 degrees Celsius.
- Drink lots of water, even if you do not feel thirsty, especially during warm nights. Pay attention to the amount and colour of your urine. Dark yellow urine is a sign of dangerous dehydration.
- Lower your activity level and avoid intense activity. It takes time for your body to adapt to heat. If you need to do errands, do them when it is cooler outside, early or late in the day.
- Watch out for severe headache, confusion, unsteadiness, loss of thirst or nausea and vomiting - they are signs of dangerous heat-related illness.
- If you are experiencing symptoms of heat-related illness, take immediate action to cool down and call for help.
For more information on preparing for extreme heat, visit the PrepareBC website.
Caring for Vulnerable People
High temperatures impact certain groups of people more than others. People over 65, people with multiple health conditions, young children, infants and pregnant people could be more vulnerable. Additionally, people who live alone, have no access to air conditioning, use substances or take certain medications may also be at increased risk.
- Check on people at higher risk in-person to evaluate their health and the temperature indoors. If you cannot check in-person, ask them to tell you what it says on their thermostat or indoor thermometer.
- Encourage those who may not know they are at higher risk to take cool baths, sleep in the coolest room, or stay with friends.
- Never leave children, dependent adults, or pets alone in a parked car – leaving windows open will not help.
Outreach and other community organizations working with vulnerable groups may use the following printable pamphlet to communicate heat safety to their clients.
Signs of Heat Related Illness
It is important to be able to identify the signs of heat-related illness and to know the appropriate response for the stage or severity of illness. Mild to moderate heat-related illness, known as heat exhaustion, can be treated at home if you have access to a cool space and plenty of fluids. Severe heat related illness, or heat stroke, is a medical emergency.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion. Move to a cool place and drink plenty of water if experiencing the following:
- Extreme thirst
- Skin rash
- Muscle cramps
- Rapid breathing and heartbeat
- Nausea or vomiting
- Heavy sweating
- Dark urine and decreased urination
Heat stroke is a severe form of heat-related illness and requires medical treatment. If someone is experiencing the following symptoms call 911; while waiting for help cool the affected person by applying cool water with a damp towel and fan as much as possible.
Symptoms of heat stroke may progress from previous symptoms of heat exhaustion, to also include:
- Very high body temperature
- Dizziness, fainting, loss of consciousness
- Confusion and lack of coordination
- NO sweating
- Hot, red skin
For more information on heat-related illnesses visit the Health Link BC Website
Tips for Keeping Your Pets Safe
If your pet is accidentally locked in your car or you see a pet locked in a car, call 911. If you see a pet in distress due to the heat, call 311.
Pets are at the greatest risk of injury and heat-related health problems during the summer months. Follow these tips to keep your pet safe and cool:
Provide plenty of fresh water - keep pets hydrated during hot weather by ensuring they always have access to fresh water, whether at home or on daily walks and outings.
Watch out for sunburn - short-haired pets and those with pink skin or white hair are most likely to burn. To prevent sunburn, control your pet’s exposure to the sun by limiting the amount of time outdoors and providing shade.
Find a cool place for your pet - use a fan or air-conditioning to keep your home cool.
- Provide shade outdoors - a gentle sprinkle from a garden hose is helpful to keep your pets cool.
- Never leave a pet unattended in hot weather on balconies or in unsheltered backyards.
- Watch how much pets eat and exercise - overeating during hot weather can lead to overheating, so feed your pets less.
- Reschedule or plan outdoor activities during the cooler parts of the day.
- Never leave your pet in a parked car - during the summer, as the outside air temperature increases, temperatures inside of a vehicle can reach dangerously high levels. Slightly opening windows or parking in the shade does not prevent temperatures from rising to dangerous levels.
Watch for signs of heat stroke:
- Rapid panting
- Lots of drooling
- Hot skin
- Twitching muscles
Heat stroke is a serious medical condition that requires immediate intervention. Act quickly to cool down your pet by moving your pet to a shaded area, pouring cool water over your pet and contacting a veterinarian immediately. For more information on keeping pets safe during extreme heat, see the BC SPCA website.
- BC Hydro – Home Cooling Tips
- BC HealthLink – Signs and Treatment of Heat-Related Illnesses
- Environment and Climate Change Canada – Public Weather Alerts for British Columbia
- BC Centre for Disease Control – BC Heat Alert and Response System
- PreparedBC – Be Prepared for Extreme Heat
- Province of BC – Emergency Alerts in B.C.
Extreme Heat Vulnerability
A research project partnership has been established between UVic and CRD’s Community Health Network to explore how extreme heat impacts vulnerable groups.Join the discussion, your insight will help shape heat adaptation strategies in the region.
How to participate: