In response to the high temperatures this week, the Emergency Management Organization (EMO) has activated the Response Plan to support residents in Saskatoon, especially those vulnerable to the heat.
In 2019 the Cold Weather Strategy partners convened and identified a need for an Extreme Heat Response plan to ensure designated cooling spaces are in place for Saskatoon’s homeless population, greatly reducing their risk of heat exposure related illnesses during the summer months. This Strategy has continued to evolve to include water bottle distribution in 2021.
In the summer of 2021, British Columbia experienced a significant Heat Dome. A review of the incident found that during the Heat Dome individuals 50 years and older, living in private residences, with health issues and social isolated were at significantly greater risk during extreme heat events. The City of Saskatoon has studied the impact of this Heat Dome and has determined that there is a need to expand the Extreme Heat Response Plan to include other Saskatoon residents who may be at increased risk during extended extreme heat events.
The Saskatoon Extreme Heat Response Plan will continue to have a coordinated response to ensure cooling locations, wellness checks and water bottle distribution for residents experiencing homelessness. Additional partners have joined, and are still being sought, for the Extreme Heat Response Plan this year. These additional partners will work together to coordinate activities to support Saskatoon residents who are older adults, living in private residences and may be at increased risk during the extreme heat events.
Extreme Heat Response is not the sole responsibility of any one organization. It takes a whole community to ensure the safety of those vulnerable to extreme heat. Saskatoon EMO works with many partners in the Extreme Heat Response Plan. These include the Saskatchewan Heath Authority, the Saskatoon Housing Initiative Partnership, Environment and Climate Change Canada and many others.
If your organization is interested in becoming a partner of the Saskatoon Extreme Heat Response Plan, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Things to consider during days of extreme heat:
- Have access to cool drinking water and drink regularly, even when not feeling thirsty
- Move to a cooler indoor space, if possible
- Draw curtains, shades or shutters to help block direct sunlight
- Close windows during the heat of the day to trap cooler air indoors
- Open windows overnight or whenever there is a cool breeze, keeping safety in mind
- Activate air conditioning or open windows in different areas to create a cross-breeze
- Limit physical activity and exposure to the outdoors during the hottest hours
- Wear light coloured and lightweight clothing
- Apply sunscreen and reapply regularly throughout the day
- Wear a hat or other head covering
Be a good neighbour
Residents can help those most vulnerable to this extreme and prolonged heat by sharing the designated cool down locations poster, checking on family, friends and neighbours and by alerting emergency services if you see someone in distress due to the extreme heat.
Although the South Saskatchewan River may provide a tempting option to cool down on hot days, EMO reminds residents that the river is unpredictable and swimming in the river is prohibited. The river has many hazards including changing currents and an unstable bottom. Learn more at saskatoon.ca/watersafety.
On warm summer days, it’s important to keep your pets safe and comfortable. Considerations include:
- Ensuring your pet has plenty of fresh water to drink
- Monitoring your pet for signs of heat stress such as rapid panting
- Never leaving pets in parked cars for any amount of time
- Offering your pet a means to cool down such as a wading pool or damp towel
For more information on how to keep your pet safe this summer, contact your local veterinarian.
As the humidex rises, those who work outdoors are encouraged to take necessary actions including:
- Drink extra water
- Increase breaks out of the sun
- Modify work duties to prevent heat illness
For safety tips and guidelines for employees working in hot conditions, visit the Government of Saskatchewan’s Working Outdoors page.
Transit Safe Bus Program
Saskatoon Transit offers the Safe Bus Program designed to assist anyone, of any age, that needs immediate shelter or needs to contact emergency services. If you need help, simply and safely flag down a bus or go to a parked bus. Transit operators can contact emergency services directly through the on-bus radio system and will give the person in need a safe place to wait.
Smart yard and garden watering
During heat waves, there is increased water usage. The City encourages residents to be water wise by watering your lawn and trees early in the morning and skip windy days to minimize evaporation. Smart watering helps the environment and can save you money during hot summer months. Follow these quick lawn care tips to be more efficient with your water and learn more ways to be water wise.
In an emergency, call 911 immediately.