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Extreme Heat Resources

Summer heat can pose serious health risks to tenants. Find out how to keep people safe in hot weather.

Temperatures across the province are increasing, which may put tenants at risk for heat-related illnesses. Summer heat can be especially harmful for vulnerable people, like many of those that BC Housing and our partners serve.

The good news is there are ways to prevent heat-related illnesses. This section provides tools and resources related to extreme-heat response for housing providers.

Identifying who’s at risk

Everyone is at risk of heat-illnesses during extreme temperatures. However, social housing tenants are at increased risk because they often have fewer resources.

Groups at higher risk include:

  • People experiencing homelessness
  • Older people
  • Infants and young children
  • People with chronic illnesses (such as breathing difficulties, heart conditions, or psychiatric illnesses)
  • People who work in the heat
  • People living alone
  • People living in high-rise apartments
  • People without access to air conditioning or fans

Signs and symptoms

Heat-related illness is the result of your body gaining heat faster than it can cool itself down. It can lead to weakness, disorientation, exhaustion. In severe cases, it can lead to heat stroke. Review HealthLink BC’s Beat the Heat page, to recognize signs, symptoms and learn what to do if you think someone is suffering from a heat-related illness.

Communicating with tenants

In Canada, there are more people dying from extreme heat than any other natural disasters combined, but many people are not aware of the dangers related to extreme heat.

Building managers and housing provides should ensure proactive and effective communication with tenants and building staff about the risks of extreme heat, the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness, and how to stay safe in hot weather.

What to do:

  • Remind tenants how to stay cool during hot weather.
    • Print several copies of our Tips to Beat the Heat poster and display them in communal areas of your buildings, like the lobby, elevators, and common rooms.
    • Ensure that all your building staff is aware of the risks, symptoms, what to do, and how to communicate with the tenants.
  • Check for hot weather warnings, and air quality reports, and let tenants know when they may be at risk.
  • Have your staff check in on elderly and vulnerable residents, and encourage tenants to check on each other, especially during the time when local health authorities issue extreme weather health warning
  • If possible, create a ‘cooling room’ where tenants can come to socialize and cool off. This may require an installation of a (portable) air conditioning unit, or fans, or any other ways that would ensure the room temperature is lower than outside and other places in the building. Ensure that tenants are aware that there is a ‘cooling room’ in the building.
  • Create a map of public places in the neighbourhood (with air conditioning) where tenants can go to cool off. This may include community centres and libraries, shopping malls, cinema, etc.
  • Have fans available for those at higher risk.