Getting out of the heat

As the summer months in New Westminster come to a close, New Westminster reporter Deni Loubert recalls the extreme heat events of the last few years and how they have caused many to look more closely at what can be done to prevent the unprecedented number of deaths from heat exposure in New West. For those particularly at risk, including seniors, people who live alone or have pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, those struggling with mental illness or are pregnant the heat can be particularly challenging. In addition, the homeless or folks with limited mobility, as well as neighborhoods with limited trees to provide shade may also be at higher risk. This has caused New Westminster City Hall to address what can be done to prevent further catastrophes such as the 28 deaths in New Westminster during the heat dome of 2021. In the July 10th City Council meeting, a formal Heat Preparedness Plan is presented that works with the province of British Columbia to facilitate the dispersal of air conditioners and other ways to fight the heat events predicted in the coming years. This special report on what New Westminster is doing to prepare the city for when another heat event occurs in the city looks at how those most at risk can find solutions to staying cool in the summers ahead. The report centers on solutions to keeping cool by reporting on the location of four cooling centers across the city, the creation and installation of fifteen misting stations set up in areas accessible to the public and a cooling map from the cities website to give viewers the location of the cooling stations and misting stations across the city. Reporter Loubert discussed with Fraser Health representative Dr. Brandon Yao about what they are doing with the Senior Services Society to identify and give relief to those most at risk. She also interviews Councilor Tasha Henderson about how City Council proposes to tackle the problem of landlords not allowing the installation of air conditioners in some buildings and talks to representatives at each of the cooling centers to inform viewers on what they can expect at each location if the heat forces them to seek cooler locations. In addition, viewers are advised to pre-identify the coolest locations in their homes and how to modify them using heat blocking curtains and fans to move cool air around the home. The warning signs of overheating are discussed, including rapid breathing, rapid heart rate, extreme thirst and decreased urination that is dark yellow. A guide to keeping cool called the Extreme Heat Preparedness Guide, created by Fraser Health in cooperation with the City of New Westminster is highlighted, with information on how to obtain a copy at the New Westminster Library, one of the four cooling stations across the city. With even more hot days ahead in the months of September, the information in this special report will continue to inform residents of New Westminster how to stay cool not only this year but in years to come. The new studies and resolutions passed at City Hall will make getting air conditioners and having them installed through the provincial program easier. Cooling stations will continue to be open during heat events and the misting stations installed will be a permanent feature in New Westminster to help citizens battle the upcoming heat events. Fraser Health will continue its work with various nonprofits such as the Senior Services Society to identity those most at risk from the heat and finding ways to help them stay healthy and cool. Staying cool in a heat event is possible, and everyone should know how to make the best use of what is available in New Westminster to ensure that they can do so.

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