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Record heat forecast for Kitimat this weekend

Fire prohibitions and expert tips for staying safe in the heat this weekend
Three-year old Gabriel takes aim with the water features at the Rotary Splash Park in Terrace as temperatures ticked above 30-degrees in July, 2018. (Black Press Media File Photo)

People in Kitimat could be using lots of sunscreen this weekend with Environment Canada forecasting sunny skies and record temperatures reaching into the mid-30s.

Environment Canada predicts temperatures hitting 30 C on Friday and rising through the weekend to 32 C on June 26 and 33 C on June 27. According to the Weather Network, those temperatures could feel hotter than 40 C.

The “unprecedented” heatwave is predicted to last until next Thursday, caused by a strong ridge of high pressure developing over B.C.

“This will result in record-breaking temperatures. The duration of this heatwave is concerning as there is little relief at night with elevated overnight temperatures,” an Environment Canada heat warning states.

“This record-breaking heat event will increase the potential for heat-related illnesses and raise river levels due to glacier melt.”

The previous record high temperature for June 25 was 30 C in 1980 and 1982. The hottest June 26 was in 2000, when temperatures nearly reached 30 C.

Dr. Raina Fumerton, Northern Health’s northwest medical health officer, said extreme heat can affect people quickly and lead to significant problems, especially if people overexert themselves for their age or physical condition. That can lead to swelling of the hands and feet, heat rashes, cramps, fainting, exhaustion and heatstroke.

“It’s really important to monitor yourself for any sort of symptoms and try to mitigate the risk as much as possible, especially for people who are most vulnerable,” Fumerton said.

According to Fumerton, those at higher risk include seniors, children, infants, people with chronic breathing or heart problems, people working or exercising outside and people without access to shelter.

She said that people should check weather forecasts to know what to expect and when, and remember to drink lots of water and avoid products that cause dehydration like caffeine and alcohol.

“If you have to go out, try to stay in the shade or wear a hat and wear sunscreen, and the higher the SPF, the better,” she said.

“Think of other loved ones, friends, relatives, neighbours, particularly if they live alone and have difficulty caring for themselves just to make sure they’re not suffering from the heat, and of course never never leave infants, small children or pets in a parked car.”

Fumerton suggested cooling off in shaded areas near lakes and rivers, or taking a cool shower or bath at home.

Dave Jephson, Terrace Search and Rescue vice president, said that there are hazards associated with cooling off in natural bodies of water to keep in mind.

“This is an anomaly that all of a sudden it’s going to get so hot, that everybody is going to flock to the water because they’re going to want to go cool down,” he said.

“Our advice would be is the water is not warm, if you jump in the water unexpectedly thinking that it’s going to be warm, it is still glacier water, it is still freezing and your breath will be taken away.”

Jephson said that alcohol and boating do not mix, and drinking can accelerate heatstroke and exhaustion. He encouraged people to visit their local waterways and enjoy the weather while staying safe.

“Make sure you have a hat on, make sure that you’re under cover, that you have shade or some access to food. Watch your kids, make sure all your kids are in sunscreen, make sure no dogs are in vehicles and be safe. I would always add, watch your neighbours and check in on your neighbours.”

In response to the elevated temperatures forecast for the weekend, the Northwest Fire Centre is implementing open fire prohibitions starting Friday at noon.

The fire ban includes category two and three open fires, one or more burning windrows, burning barrels, and burning stubble or grass. Fireworks and sky lanterns will be banned.

Cooking stoves and campfires smaller than a half-metre high and wide are allowed as long as they have a fireguard. People should have a hand tool or at least eight litres of water available to extinguish the fire.

“Anyone found in contravention of an open fire prohibition may be issued a violation ticket for $1,150, required to pay an administrative penalty of up to $10,000 or, if convicted in court, fined up to $100,000 and/or sentenced to one year in jail,” stated the Northwest Fire Centre in a media release.

“If the contravention causes or contributes to a wildfire, the person responsible may be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs.”

With files from Jacob Lubberts

READ MORE: BC Hydro assures customers it has ‘more than enough’ power to weather the heatwave