Posted on June 28, 2021

Heat Warning for Metro Vancouver today

Environment Canada announced a heat risk to the Lower Mainland today; please take preventative measures to avoid heat-related injuries.

Please note that Vancouver Community College (VCC) Broadway and Downtown campuses are open for normal operations today and our HVAC systems are operational. VCC will be monitoring the heat situation and will apply all WorkSafeBC guidelines regarding heat stress.

Protection from heat stress

Heat exhaustion can come on quickly when the body overheats to 40 degrees C. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include dizziness, nausea, headache, clammy skin, and intense thirst. Worse, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, a more serious condition that can cause brain damage, unconsciousness, and even death.

How can you protect yourself from heat hazards at work? Here are some pointers, whether the work happens outdoors or indoors under hot conditions:

Stay hydrated

Drink lots of water. When your sweat glands are working overtime, you need to stay hydrated. Aim to drink about one litre of water every hour and stay away from caffeine and alcohol, which are dehydrating.

Avoid direct sunlight/stay in shade

Seek shade. Avoid working in the sun — particularly between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., when the sun’s UV rays are the strongest. And don’t forget to reapply sunscreen every couple of hours if you work in the sun.

Dress appropriately 

Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing to help sweat evaporate and keep you cooler. Avoid dark colors, which can absorb heat. If possible, wear a light-colored, wide-brimmed hat.

Moderate activities

Exercise in the morning or evening, when it's likely to be cooler outdoors. If possible, exercise in shady areas, or do a water workout in a pool. If possible, stay indoors. Work out at the gym, walk laps inside the mall, or climb stairs inside an air-conditioned building.

Heed the humidex

Humidex ratings tell us how hot we actually feel when heat and humidity mix to an uncomfortable or unsafe degree. The higher the humidex, the harder it is to cool down by sweating. It’s important that employers monitor other factors that affect how hot it feels in the workplace, such as air flow, workload, radiant heat sources, and the age and physical health of workers.

Pay attention to warning signs

Heat illnesses can happen quickly, especially during hot-weather exercise, watch for the following signs and symptoms:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Excessive sweating
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Low blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Visual problems

If you develop any of these symptoms, you must lower your body temperature and get hydrated right away. Stop exercising immediately and get out of the heat. If possible, have someone stay with you who can help monitor your condition. If you do not act, your condition may worsen, resulting in a medical emergency.

WorkSafe BC has also created a guide for workers during extreme heat conditions.

Please look out for each other! People generally don’t notice when they have heat exhaustion, so it’s important that workers be trained in recognizing its signs and symptoms and when to call for medical help.