SURREY – With warmer temperatures on the way and weather experts forecasting a hot summer, Fraser Health is encouraging people to plan ahead to protect themselves and their loved ones during heat events.

Extreme heat can cause health impacts, resulting in heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. These can worsen pre-existing health conditions and, in extreme situations, lead to permanent disability or death.

Preparing for heat:

The first high temperatures of the season can lead to overheating as some people are not yet accustomed to warmer weather. There are some basic steps you can take to ensure you and your family remain safe and healthy during warmer temperatures.

Shut windows and close curtains or blinds during the heat of the day to block the sun and to prevent hotter outdoor air from coming inside. Open doors and windows when it is cooler outside to move the cooler air indoors.
Practice opening doors and windows to move cool air in at night and shutting windows during the day to prevent hot outdoor air from coming inside.
Get a digital room thermometer to keep with you so you know when your home is getting too hot.
If you do not have air conditioning at home, find an air-conditioned space or shaded outdoor location close by where you can cool off on hot days. Consider places in your community to spend time such as libraries, community centres, movie theatres, shopping malls, or recreation spaces including the ocean, rivers or lakes.
Ensure you have two weeks’ worth of any medication (both routine and flare-up/emergency) and inhalers.
Never leave people or pets inside a parked vehicle during warm weather.

Prepare your home:

During high temperatures and smoky conditions, your home can help to protect you.

Install awnings, shutters, blinds or curtains over your windows to keep the sun out during the day.
Check that your fan or air conditioner are working. You may be eligible for the Free Portable Air Conditioner program.
Create a space in the coolest part of your home, such as the basement for when outside temperatures get very hot.
If you do not have a cool space at home, have a plan to stay with friends or family who have air conditioning in the event of an extreme heat emergency or find places in your community to cool down. Connect with your local government to see where cooling centres will be in your community or check the EmergencyMapBC for cooling centres and other hot-weather resources.

Your health:

· Spray your body down with water, wear a damp shirt, take a cool shower or bath or sit with part of your body in water to cool down if you are feeling too hot.

· Drink plenty of water and other liquids to stay hydrated, even if you are not feeling thirsty.

· Take it easy, especially during the hottest hours of the day.

· Stay in the shade or use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or more.

· Signs of overheating include feeling unwell, headache and dizziness. Take immediate action to cool down if you are overheating.

· It is important to remember that overheating can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

· Signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, severe headache, muscle cramps, extreme thirst and dark urine. If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should seek a cooler environment, drink plenty of water, rest and use water to cool your body.

· Heat stroke is a medical emergency. Signs of heat stroke include confusion, fainting or decreased consciousness or high body temperatures that cannot be lowered.

· If you are experiencing heat exhaustion or heat stroke, call 9-1-1 and seek medical care.

When to call 9-1-1:

In the event of a medical emergency, British Columbians are advised to call 9-1-1. However, it is also important to use these systems responsibly, so they are available to those who need them.

Ahead of the busy summer months, BC Emergency Health Services in partnership with ECOMM, is reminding British Columbians to only dial 9-1-1 for serious or life-threatening injuries.

In general: when there is chest pain, difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, severe burns, choking, convulsions that are not stopping, a drowning, a severe allergic reaction, a head injury, signs of a stroke and/or a major trauma.
More specifically related to hot weather: severe headache, confusion, unsteadiness, loss of thirst, nausea/vomiting and dark or no urine are signs of dangerous heat-related illness.

If you have a less urgent health issue:

You can call 8-1-1 and get connected with a nurse at HealthLinkBC. Or, if you can do it safely, you could go to an urgent care centre or clinic. There are also online tools at including a “Check Your Symptoms” tool.
You can also visit an Urgent and Primary Care Centre or connect with a registered nurse through Fraser Health Virtual Care by calling 1-800-314-0999 or logging onto the web chat at Fraser Health Virtual Care is available seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Preparing for wildfire smoke

With wildfires comes wildfire smoke, which can affect the health of communities near to and far away from the fires. People with chronic respiratory conditions, including asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), are most at risk, although everyone should take measures to reduce their wildfire smoke exposure. Using commercial or do-it-yourself single or double filter air cleaners can improve air quality in home.

Make an emergency plan for your household before wildfire season starts. Knowing what to do will reduce anxiety and help keep you focused and safe if you need to evacuate. B.C. emergency plans are available in several languages. Know the forecast and use the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) to evaluate local and regional air quality conditions.

People can take steps now to prepare in advance of wildfires and the spreading of wildfire smoke:

Get a portable air cleaner with a HEPA filter if you are able, or a do-it-yourself air cleaner.
If you can’t keep your whole home clean and cool, focus on one room such as a bedroom, basement or crawlspace.
If you have a forced air system, make sure your filters can reduce indoor smoke.
If you have a health condition, make sure you have a supply of rescue medications on hand.
If you don’t have access to cleaner air at home, know where you can go in your community such as libraries, shopping centres, community centres, etc.

Who is most at risk?

It is important to monitor yourself and family members, and to consider developing a check-in system for neighbours and friends who are at higher risk during warmer weather. The most susceptible individuals include:

Older adults.
People who live alone.
People with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, depression, or anxiety.
People with pre-existing health conditions (e.g. diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease).
People with substance use disorders.
People with disabilities or limited mobility.
People who are marginally housed.
People who work in hot environments.
People who are pregnant.
Infants and young children.

For information and resources to help you stay safe and healthy in the heat, visit

The BC Centre of Disease Control (BCCDC) also has a broad range of heat-related information on its website, including information on the different types of heat alerts, how to prepare for warmer temperatures, symptoms of heat-related illnesses, those most at risk during warmer weather and ways to stay cool.

For more information about air quality, please visit

For information about wildfire smoke, please visit