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Tips to stay safe, cool during extreme heat wave

VICTORIA – British Columbians are being asked to take precautions this weekend, as Environment Canada has issued a heat warning for most of the province, predicting a dangerous, long heat wave beginning Friday, June 25 and lasting until Tuesday, June 29.

Environment Canada notes the record-breaking temperatures will provide little relief at night, with elevated overnight temperatures, increasing the risk of heat-related illnesses. HealthLink BC has these tips for keeping cool and healthy:

* Never leave children alone in a parked car.
Temperatures can rise to 52 Celsius (125 Fahrenheit) within 20 minutes inside a vehicle when the outside temperature is 34 C (93 F). Leaving the car windows slightly open will not keep the inside of the vehicle at a safe temperature.

* Drink plenty of fluids.
Drink extra water even before you feel thirsty and if you are active on a hot day. Ask your health-care provider about how much water you should drink on hot days if you are on water pills or limiting your fluid intake.

* Keep cool.
Stay indoors in air-conditioned buildings or take a cool bath or shower. At temperatures above 30 C (86 F), fans alone may not be able to prevent heat-related illness. Sunscreen will protect against the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, but not from the heat.

* Plan activity before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m., when the sun’s UV radiation is the weakest.

* Avoid tiring work or exercise in hot, humid environments.
If you must work or exercise, drink two to four glasses of non-alcoholic fluids each hour. Rest breaks are important and should be taken in the shade.

* Avoid sunburn.
Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher on exposed skin and an SPF 30 lip balm, and reapply often.

* Wear lightweight, light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing and a wide brimmed hat, or use an umbrella for shade.

* Regularly check older adults, children and others for signs of heat-related illness, and make sure they are keeping cool and drinking plenty of fluids.
Check on those who are unable to leave their homes and people with emotional or mental-health challenges whose judgment may be impaired.

* Heat also affects pets.
Never leave a pet in a parked car. Limit pets’ exercise, and be sure to provide them with plenty of water and shade.

Home treatment for mild heat exhaustion may include:

* moving to a cooler environment;

* drinking plenty of cool, non-alcoholic fluids;

* resting; and

* taking a cool shower or bath.

If symptoms are not mild, last longer than one hour, change, worsen or cause concern, contact a health-care provider.

Elevated heat also increases the risk of wildfire, and British Columbians are being urged to do their part to prevent human-caused wildfires and help keep communities safe. To report a wildfire, unattended campfire or open burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.

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