A cooling centre open during last year's heat dome in Vancouver. Shutterstock

Special weather statement issued as temperatures could hit 30C in Burnaby

Environment Canada says heat will hit the Lower Mainland over the weekend, with daytime highs potentially reaching the low 30s.

By Srushti Gangdev | June 22, 2022 |11:18 am

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for Metro Vancouver, with temperatures expected to soar in the next few days.

The weather agency says daytime highs could reach the low 30s over the weekend and into early next week, with overnight lows in the mid-teens granting some respite from the higher than average temperatures.

The elevated temperatures mean the risk of heat-related illnesses is higher—and it comes just days before the anniversary of last year’s deadly heat dome, where temperatures reached record highs near 40°C in Burnaby.

Environment Canada says the heat could also lead to an increase in snowmelt and the possibility of increased stream flows.

But don’t expect that you’ll necessarily be able to beat the heat by taking a swim.

“Although heat is expected, bodies of water still remain cool for this time of year and may pose a risk of hypothermia when exposed to cold water for a prolonged period of time,” the weather agency said.

So what can you do to stay cool if the heat reaches extreme levels?

Most importantly, watch for signs of heat illness. People who are more at risk of heat illness include elderly people and young children, along with those who are spending extended time periods outside in the heat, so it may be a good idea to check in with family members or neighbours who live alone if the weather gets hot.

Symptoms of heat illness include heavy sweating, nausea, muscle cramps, and dizziness—take a look at this handy graphic from the CDC on the differences between heat illness and heat stroke. Heat stroke should be considered a medical emergency, and you should call 911 right away if you see someone experiencing symptoms like confusion, a high body temperature, and hot, red, dry skin.

As Burnaby New-Westminster MP Peter Julian pointed out last month, many Burnaby residents do not have access to air conditioning, and our homes have been traditionally built to withstand extreme cold, not extreme heat.

Where and how to seek refuge from heat in Burnaby

Burnaby has been working on its extreme heat response plan in order to prepare for the possibility of another heat wave—and public safety director Dave Critchley told city councillors earlier this week that the upcoming forecast will be a good time to test out the city’s preparedness.

The city is ready to open four indoor cooling centres and support two outdoor popup centres run by the Burnaby Society to End Homelessness in the event of temperatures exceeding 29C for two consecutive days, along with overnight temperatures of 16C or higher.

The City of Burnaby tells the Beacon that cooling centres are only opened when Environment Canada issues a heat warning with the forecast meeting those thresholds at YVR. Currently, that threshold has not been met and the city isn’t activating its cooling centres.

“Regardless of whether our Cooling Centres are open are not, residents seeking a place to cool off are always welcome at any City facility,” a spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

If and when cooling centres are opened during a heat warning, you can find them at the following locations from 10am-10pm:

Outdoor popups run by the Society to End Homelessness can be found here:

The city is working on plans to transport people who are not able to get to cooling centres on their own during a heat warning.

You can also seek refuge from the heat at other indoor air conditioned locations like libraries, recreation centres, and malls.

If you wish to stay at home or are unable to leave, you should make sure to stay hydrated by consistently drinking water through the day, keeping all windows and doors shut and curtains closed to keep the heat out, and take a cool shower or bath.

You can also makeshift an air conditioner by placing ice trays in front of a fan.

Public alerts

The city has also launched a free public notification system that will alert residents of emergencies. While it won’t have the ability to issue “broadcast intrusive messages,” the Alertable app will send notifications of emergency situations through the user’s preferred method—home phone, mobile phone calls, text messages, or app notifications.

The city will use the app in times of emergency including severe weather, natural disasters, industrial hazards, and other events with the potential to impact many residents.

You can find more information about Alertable here.

Srushti Gangdev

Reporter at Burnaby Beacon

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