How to stay cool in the heat wave: Metro Vancouver advice

Check back today as highs inland can reach 35°C.

Today, be mindful of the elderly, young children, and other vulnerable people.

Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health officials are issuing this reminder amid an ongoing heat warning over Metro Vancouver, Howe Sound and the Fraser Valley. Communities including New Westminster and Burnaby have kept their cooling centers open for the duration of the heat event.

A strong high-pressure ridge has brought a short-lived heatwave to British Columbia, with daily highs of 29-35°C inland and almost 27°C near the water. Moderate temperatures are expected tomorrow (Friday).

In the meantime, however, health officials say this brief heat event – the fourth officially recorded event of the season – is not expected to have any widespread health impacts on the general public. However, they ask people to check out those who may be susceptible to heat illness:

  • seniors aged 65 and over;
  • people who live alone;
  • People with pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or respiratory disease;
  • People with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, depression or anxiety;
  • people with substance use disorders;
  • people housed on the fringes;
  • people who are pregnant;
  • infants and young children;
  • People with reduced mobility or other disabilities.

The health authorities also offer some other tips for living with the heat.

How to stay cool when you don’t have air conditioning

  • Find a place to cool off on a hot day — like a library, community center, movie theater, or mall. Also consider outdoor areas with lots of shade and running water.
  • Close windows and close curtains and blinds during the heat of the day to block the sun and prevent hotter outside air from getting inside. Open doors and windows when it’s cooler outside to bring the cooler air inside.
  • Make sure you have a working fan, but don’t rely on fans as the primary coolant. Fans can be used to draw cooler air indoors in the late evening, night and early morning. Track the temperatures in your home with a thermostat or thermometer. Persistent indoor temperatures above 31 C can be dangerous for heat-sensitive people.
  • If your home gets very hot, consider staying with a friend or relative who has air conditioning, if possible.
  • Identify individuals at high risk of heat-related illness. If possible, help them prepare for the heat and plan to check on them.

How to protect your health in the heat

  • Drink plenty of water and other fluids to stay hydrated, even if you’re not thirsty.
  • Spray water on your body, wear a damp shirt, take a cool shower or bath, or sit part of your body in water to cool off.
  • Take it easy, especially during the hottest hours of the day.
  • Stay in the shade and use a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Act immediately to cool down if you overheat. Signs of overheating include feeling unwell, headaches and dizziness. Overheating can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
  • Signs of heat stroke include profuse sweating, severe headaches, muscle spasms, extreme thirst, and dark urine. If you experience these symptoms, move to a cooler environment, drink plenty of water, rest, and use water to cool your body.
  • Signs of heat stroke include loss of consciousness, disorientation, confusion, severe nausea or vomiting, and very dark or no urine. Heatstroke is a medical emergency.
  • In the event of a medical emergency, call 911. However, it is important to use 911 responsibly to avoid overloading the system.

Heat and Other Emergencies: When to Call 911

  • For heat stroke: loss of consciousness, disorientation, confusion, severe nausea or vomiting, or very dark urine or no urine.
  • In general: if you have chest pain, difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, severe burns, choking fits, incessant convulsions, drowning, a severe allergic reaction, a head injury, signs of stroke, or severe trauma.

If you have a less urgent health problem

  • You can call HealthLinkBC on 811 and speak to a nurse or go to an emergency center or clinic if it is safe for you to do so. This keeps emergency medical personnel and paramedics available for people who need their services most.
  • There are also online tools at, including a Check Your Symptoms tool.

Check out Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health resources for more information on the health effects of heat, as well as tips and resources to help you stay safe and cool.

Follow Julie MacLellan on Twitter @juliemacellan.
Email Julie, [email protected]

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