'Really, really dangerous,' Edmontonians asked to help those at risk as temperatures spike

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Edmontonians are being asked to keep an eye out for some of the city’s most vulnerable people who may be struggling as the province begins what is expected to be a historic heat wave.

Almost all of Alberta was under an extreme heat warning Saturday. Environment Canada is warning of a “prolonged, dangerous, and potentially historic heat wave” over the weekend and into next week. Afternoon high temperatures are expected to climb to the mid 30s by Sunday, and could approach or exceed 40 C in some regions early next week.

Elliott Tanti, communications manager for Boyle Street Community Services, said Saturday that the heat can be dangerous for people who are homeless and he wants Edmontonians to keep watch for anyone who might be in trouble.

“If you see someone that’s in distress, if you see someone that looks in trouble, … I would really encourage people to either call 211 for crisis diversion or if it’s a medical emergency just to call 911,” he said.

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“Just be on guard for people over the next couple days. It’s obviously really dangerous out there.”

Alberta Health Services lists symptoms of heat stroke including high body temperature, lack of sweat, disorientation, fainting and unconsciousness

Tanti said the organization has been trying to spread the word that the heat wave is coming.

“We’ve had pretty warm weather already and so our folks are aware of it. But that being said, it’s one thing to be aware of it and then another thing to have to deal with it,” he said.

“So we’re trying our best to arm people with water, obviously, but also things like sunscreen, reminding them of the dangers of the heat, and just making sure that we’re ready to go next week when things get really, really hot and really, really dangerous for our community.”

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Tanti said the COVID-19 pandemic has added an extra obstacle because capacity restrictions in many buildings mean there are fewer indoor places to go to cool down.

The City of Edmonton enacted its extreme weather response Friday morning, the first time it’s been activated for hot weather.

Kinsmen, Commonwealth, Clareview, Terwillegar, The Meadows and Mill Woods recreation centres will be open to public access as well as The Orange Hub during their normal operating hours, to give people places to cool down and hand out water. Capacity restrictions remain in place at those locations until July 1.

A number of community organizations have put out calls to the public to get bottled water.

This year Boyle Street has partnered with a local distributor to buy pallets of water at a discount. The five feet wide by five feet tall pallets cost approximately $700. So far the organization has raised approximately $4,000 through its water fund online. The water will be handed out at the community centre as well as part of many outreach programs.

The hottest recorded day in Edmonton was June 29, 1937 when temperatures hit 37.2 C. That could be exceeded on Tuesday when the forecasted high is 39 C.

Meanwhile, Edmonton Fire Rescue Services was also warning people to be careful when using fire pits, barbecues or open flames as stray embers can travel and start a fire.

“Stay in attendance of all fires and—as always—NEVER leave children or pets unattended in hot vehicles,” the fire department said on Twitter.

ajoannou@postmedia.com

twitter.com/ashleyjoannou

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