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People encouraged to prepare for floods, wildfire risks due to anticipated heat

With unseasonably hot weather forecast for most parts of British Columbia this weekend and into next week, people are encouraged to stay informed about potential risks.
Environment and Climate Change Canada has issued a special weather statement for unseasonably hot weather, which is expected to begin Friday, May 12, 2023, and last until Tuesday, May 16 on the coast, and Wednesday, May 17 in the Interior. Widespread daily maximum temperature records are likely to be broken. Expect temperatures 10 C to 15 C above what is normal for this time of year. The Interior daytime high temperatures will peak in the low to mid-30s, low to mid-30s in the Lower Mainland and Sea to Sky, and low 30s and high 20s on Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast.
People are encouraged to frequently monitor alerts and forecasts issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada.
“While the warmer temperatures will be welcomed by many people who are looking to venture outdoors and explore our beautiful province, it does elevate some of our seasonal risks, such as floods, wildfires and heat,” said Bowinn Ma, B.C.’s Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness. “I urge people take full advantage of the beautiful weather ahead, but to stay informed about potential risks and take precautions to ensure your safety and well-being.”
The forecast heat is expected to accelerate the snowmelt at higher elevations, which will increase pressure on the province’s rivers and streams. The River Forecast Centre is monitoring weather patterns and river conditions, and the River Forecast Centre website has updated flood warning and advisory notifications, including a map of areas of heightened flood risk.
The Province is closely co-ordinating with communities affected by floods. Provincial assets, including sandbags, sandbag machines and temporary retaining walls have been deployed to communities at risk of potential flooding. Local governments and First Nations will have the most up-to-date information available about where people can pick up sandbags.
As of Thursday, May 11, 2023, there were 45 active wildfires, three of which are wildfires of note in the Prince George Fire Centre. Compared to the 20-year average, the number of wildfires experienced this spring is normal. While the number of hectares burned is four times higher than normal, 85% are a result of three wildfires in northeastern B.C.
At this time of year, the main cause of wildfires is human activity. The BC Wildfire Service encourages everyone to exercise caution when conducting any open burning or participating in activities that could cause a wildfire.
The unseasonably hot weather may feel intense to people who have not acclimatized to warmer temperatures. It’s important that people keep themselves and others safe over the next several days. The Province’s Extreme Heat Preparedness Guide has information to help people prepare for heat and tips on how to stay safe.
People are encouraged to prepare a heat plan, including identifying cool zones inside and outside of homes (community centres, libraries, etc.), knowing ways to cool down, such as taking cool baths or showers and drinking plenty of water, and identifying vulnerable family members and neighbours who are susceptible to heat who should be checked on.
During a heat warning or extreme heat emergency, the Province reimburses eligible costs to local governments and First Nations so they can open cooling centres. This funding may also be used to transport people to and from cooling centres. Local governments and First Nations will have the most up-to-date information on where people can access a community cooling centre.
With elevated temperatures, the risk of heat-related illnesses increases. The most concerning heat illnesses include heat stroke and heat exhaustion, which can come on quite rapidly. Watch for symptoms of heat illness, including dizziness or fainting, nausea or vomiting, confusion, headache, rapid breathing and heartbeat, extreme thirst, and decreased urination with unusually dark yellow urine.

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