Possible record-breaking heat coming for South Okanagan

Penticton is heading into a possible record-breaking heat wave this weekend.

Mya Brownoff

Mya Brownoff

Penticton is heading into a possible record-breaking heat wave this weekend, and while that is great for beach-goers and summer fun, it puts young children and seniors at risk.

Temperatures begin rising past 30 degrees Celsius on Friday, but the extreme heat starts cooking on the weekend.

Temperatures averaging 37-38 degrees Celsius are expected over the weekend, flirting with the records for the month of June.

“We are expecting one or two records will fall over the weekend,” Lisa Coldwells, meteorologist with Environment Canada said. “We are looking at an extreme heat event.”

If the temperature hits 38 degrees it will break an all-time June record for the area, previously set at 37.8 degrees Celsius in 2008.

“It’s extremely hot for this time of the year,” Coldwells said.

Temperatures are expected to break and drop slightly in the middle of next week, bringing daytime highs through Canada Day to around 33-34 degrees Celsius.

The heat wave is expected to break around July 3.

“Then usually what happens is you get instability in the atmosphere. You get some thunderstorm development and it brings in cool air from the Northwest,” Coldwells said.

This wave is even more intense than the previous upper ridge, which pushed the warm desert air up to Penticton earlier this summer.

Kids four years old or younger and seniors 65 and up are at the highest risk for heat related illness. Also those who are overweight, take medication, have health problems or consume large amounts of alcohol are at higher risk.

Knowing the symptoms of heat related illness, prevention and knowing what to do when it happens can help you be better prepared for the extremely hot weather.

Heat related illnesses have a range of symptoms. Mild symptoms of headaches, blurred vision, nausea or vomiting, thirst and extreme sweating usually indicate heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion causes the skin to be cool, pale and moist.

“When people have these symptoms the best thing to do is to move the person to a cool, dry place. Have the person lie down or rest, apply cool water to the skin and reapply often,” said Dr. Kamran Golmohammadi, medical health officer with Interior Health.

If symptoms don’t improve or worsen she said it’s best to call 911.

More extreme and severe cases of heat related illness may lead to heat stroke with symptoms like headaches, dizziness, disorientation, agitation and confusion. A person suffering from heat stroke may become sluggish or fatigued and my even lose consciousness, with a significant increase in body temperature.

A rapid heartbeat and hot, red and dry skin can also indicate heat stroke. Hallucinations can also be a symptom of more extreme heat related illness.

“These are cases of clinical emergency and they require immediate medical attention,” Golmohammadi said “The best thing for these people is to call 911.”

“It is good to know what to do to prevent heat related illnesses.”

Avoid direct sun exposure or doing exercise in excess at times in the day where temperatures are at the highest, around noon into the early afternoon. Wear lightweight and light-colour clothing to help the body ventilate and compensate for the heat. Of course, drink plenty of water and stay and in a cool area.

Hot temperatures also means high UV exposure, making sunscreen a must.

“I think it’s also very important for people to know that alcoholic beverages deteriorate the compensatory mechanisms. So avoid drinking alcohol,” Golmohammadi said.

“One other very important thing is cars and children. Never leave children alone in a parked car, even when the windows are slightly open,” said.

He said according to studies when the temperature outside is 34 degrees Celsius, within 20 minutes the temperature inside a car can exceed 52 degrees Celsius.

“That is very dangerous for small children,” Golmohammadi said.