Beat the heat

  12 August 2021

Environment Canada has issued a weather warning for BC’s south coast, with temperatures set to rise to 34 to 38 degrees during the day, through to Sunday. Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley residents will experience the worst of the heat wave on Thursday and Friday, with little relief expected overnight. There is an increased risk of heat-related illness for housing co-op members.

Many co-ops tell us they are creating voluntary wellness check-in call lists where members can add their names, and family members’ names, to a list that volunteers use to check in with them to ensure they are okay. What is your co-op doing to beat the heat? We invite you to share the ways you’re beating the heat and supporting your members:

Facebook @coophousingbc
Instagram @chfbc and Twitter @chfbc

Below are tips from BC Housing on how to ensure everyone can stay safe and cool.

Wellness Check Instructions:

  1. How to stay cool:
  • Share tips on keeping the unit as cool as possible (draw blinds or curtains, if possible improve air flow, use fans)
  • How to keep the body cool (using wet towels on the back of the neck or in the armpits; hand out ice packs and cooling towels)
  • Where members can go to cool off (i.e., cooling zones in the building, or places with air conditioning such as community centres and shopping malls)
  1. What to offer if a member is suffering:
  • Immediate medical care – call 911 (i.e., heat stroke, difficulty breathing, or chest pain). If you are not successful reaching 911, arrange a taxi for immediate transportation to a hospital. Familiarize yourself with the Warning Signs and Symptoms of Heat-Related Illness.
  • A referral to Health Services for further assessment (i.e., member is at risk but does not require immediate medical care – call the BC Nurse Line 811).
  • Update at next check in – let the member know you will check back later (and that the member is aware of risks of it their housing unit is not overly hot, that the risk level seems low).
  1. Also distribute updated Tips to Beat the Heat (But this should not replace direct communication with members or wellness checks to those who ask for them).
  1. Be prepared to provide direct support such as assistance with setting up an air conditioner if necessary or help with covering the windows to reduce the light.
  1. Bring a cooler with cold drinks along on wellness checks, including water, Pedialyte for children and sports drinks with electrolytes for adults. If possible, have fruit, juice boxes and prepared salads on hand for those who may need them. Preparing a meal can be a challenging exertion during a heat wave for some people with disabilities. You could also offer to stock the fridge and freezer with popsicles and fruit and drinks.
  1. Be aware that a variety of conditions impact how well a person can tolerate the heat and for how long. Many disabilities impact the body’s ability to thermoregulate as do some medications. Those who have conditions such as Crohn’s disease may be additionally susceptible to dehydration. Heat places considerable stress on the body and, for people who are unable to sweat, it can become dangerous very quickly as their body heats up.

You can find more cooling and safety resources from BC Housing.