Homeless people are vulnerable during extreme heat.

Homeless people are vulnerable during extreme heat.

City will protect homeless from extreme heat

Two days at 36C triggers hot weather response in Maple Ridge

Homeless people are among the most vulnerable in a heat wave, and the city will take special precautions to protect this population.

Maple Ridge emergency services coordinator Patrick Cullen said two days of 36 C heat will trigger the city’s hot weather response. In that event, bottled water will be provided to people living on the street, provided by city public works and parks staff.

The city will also look to open a cooling centre – an air conditioned building where homeless people can stay during the hottest hours of the day.

“Anybody outside in the peak, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., of the heat of the day, if they don’t have any reprieve, they’re going to be vulnerable,” said Cullen.

Cullen said the cooling centre would likely be the Greg Moore Youth Centre, and/or local churches.

Darrell Pilgrim of the Salvation Army Caring Place said the facility offers respite from the heat – both water and air conditioning – to homeless people, but the facility is at capacity of 60 people most of the time.

Cullen noted seniors and people with medical conditions are also vulnerable to extreme heat. A 2009 heat wave caused an estimated 110 deaths in the Lower Mainland, and many of the victims were elderly.

Cullen advises this population to take the health risk seriously, and seek out cool places as temperatures rise. The Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows public libraries, shopping centres and local seniors centres are all places where people can cool off during the midday heat.

Fraser Health says one of the most important things to do in a heat wave is to seek out air-conditioned shelter for at least a few hours a day, to take cool showers, and stay hydrated.

Temperatures had been forecast to reach the mid to high 30s all this week, but smoke from Interior forest fires drifting into the Lower Mainland has had a shading effect. Environment Canada meteorologist Cindy Yu said the smoke makes temperatures hard to predict, but the mercury could still reach 35 C on Thursday and Friday in the Fraser Valley.

The city has an extreme heat public notice on its website.

Maple Ridge News