It’s hot in southern Alberta and the heat isn’t going to be letting up any time soon.
On Friday morning, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) issued a heat warning for an area of the province that stretches from Sundre, Alta., to the Alberta-Saskatchewan boundary, and south to the Canada-U.S. border.
The northern part of the warnings – including Calgary, Drumheller, High River and Brooks – are due to face temperatures reaching 29 C or warmer combined with overnight lows near 14 C.
The southern part of the warnings – which include Lethbridge and Medicine Hat – are expected to face daytime highs of 32 C or higher and overnight lows of 16 C.
Parts of southwestern Saskatchewan face the same heat warnings.
Heat warnings are issued when very high temperatures are expected to increase risk of heat illnesses like heat stroke or heat exhaustion.
The prolonged heat event is expected to last into early next week.
“A blocking pattern in the jet stream has trapped hot air over western Canada and we’re not expecting any movement until next week,” Global News weather anchor Tiffany Lizee said.
How to beat the heat
During heat warnings, people are advised to follow these precautions:
- Consider rescheduling outdoor activities to cooler hours of the day.
- Take frequent breaks from the heat, spending time in cooled indoor spaces where possible.
- Drink plenty of water and other non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages to stay hydrated.
- Check for your children or pets before you exit your vehicle. Do not leave any person or pet inside a closed vehicle, for any length of time.
The City of Calgary has a number of cooling centres spread around the city. A map of cooling centres is available online.
Stuart Brideaux, public education officer with AHS EMS, said knowing what to expect in forecasted temperatures can help in preparing for the heat.
In addition to drinking lots of water, he advised applying sunscreen before going outdoors and wearing “your own shade.”
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“Always wear a broad brimmed hat or anything that keeps the heat and sun off your face and neck — that will go a long way to keeping you comfortable,” Brideaux said.
AHS also advises checking for symptoms of heat stroke or heat exhaustion, like a high body temperature, lack of sweat, disorientation, fainting or unconsciousness.
“Younger children, they don’t tolerate the heat as well as regular, healthy adults do. They also don’t moderate their behavior in the heat and sun,” Brideaux said. “Offer them juice and water before they’re thirsty. Take frequent breaks out of the heat – shade is ideal, but even air conditioned environments work.
“And just be aware of anyone that you’re with, whether you’re an elderly person or you’re with elderly family or friends as well with underlying medical conditions, maybe also tolerate the heat as well.”
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If you’re helping someone who is waiting for medical attention, AHS suggests moving that person into a shaded area, removing their outer clothing and shoes, and wrapping the person in a wet towel until medical care arrives.
Brideaux also advised against leaving children or pets inside vehicles when it’s hot.
“The temperature inside a vehicle, if the air conditioning was to fail, can rise to easily over 50 C in just a few minutes.”
Filling a kiddie pool in the backyard or heading to the nearest river or lake is an attractive idea in extreme heat.
But the Calgary Fire Department, who are called during water rescues within the city, warns that even the smallest pool can present a risk.
“Where there’s water, there’s risk. And you need to always remember that you can never completely eliminate the risk, but you can prepare yourself,” CFD public information officer Carol Henke said.
“The most common problems we see on the Bow River or the Elbow River is people not wearing their life jackets or not having enough life jackets for each person, not having the appropriate craft.”
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Henke advised against intoxication of any kind when on a river or body of water, as it inhibits an individual’s ability to respond if something goes wrong.
Group floats down a river can also present some risk when tying rafts and other watercraft together.
“If that gets stuck on a bridge abutment, there’s serious trouble,” Henke said. “I’ve seen canoes wrapped around bridge abutments and it can happen very, very quickly.
Henke also warned that simple novelty inflatables shouldn’t be used on bodies of water like rivers that they aren’t designed for. She advises to only take your watercraft where they’re designed to go.
“Please don’t take your rafts down Harvie Passage. That is really indicated for kayakers who have all of the proper safety equipment.
“We don’t want to see anyone injured there or worse, drown.”
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Global record-breaking temperatures
A wave of heat is not loosening its grip on the globe.
Phoenix, Ariz., broke its own streak of hot days, southern Europeans and vacationers are broiling under near-record temperatures as they’re warned of staying indoors, and parts of the Middle East have tested the limits of what the human body is capable of enduring.
This June was the hottest on record worldwide, and July is expected to be even hotter. The world has been in unchartered hot territory for most of the month, according to the University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer.
Climate change from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas is causing the world to warm, with the Earth’s average temperature about 1.1 degrees Celsius higher than pre-industrial times. It’s causing more record-breaking heat and extreme weather events around the world.
–with files from The Associated Press
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