Prepare a EHWS Response Plan

A successful response to Extreme Heat and Wildfire Smoke (EHWS) events depends on a strong response plan, developed before the event occurs. In some years, heat waves begin as early as May.

A response plan will look different for different organizations, depending on their size, building configuration, staffing levels, location, and other factors. 

An EHWS response plan may include the following components: 

Review the EHWS Plan Organizational Assessment see if your organization has these elements in place. 

Staff Training

Site staff who have direct contact with tenants/clients should understand the health impacts of extreme heat You may need to provide training in staff meetings or distribute information by other methods. 

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Internal Notification Process 

Consider setting up an internal notification process for EHWS events. The process should notify all relevant staff, from directors to managers to site staff. Activate the process when Environment and Climate Change Canada publishes a Special Weather Statement or Alert related to EHWS.  

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Tenant/Client Vulnerability Assessment and Wellness Check Plan 

While everyone is at risk during EHWS events, identify tenants/clients with specific risk factors. Doing so will help prioritize wellness checks and additional support. BC Housing has created a wellness check-in card for tenants/clients that can be used as part of a wellness check plan. 

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On-site Cooling Options  

If your site does not have in-suite air conditioning, set up on-site cooling rooms or outdoor cooling spaces. Cooling rooms and spaces provide protection from heat-related illness and improve comfort. Air conditioners and air purifiers can be used in these spaces to create a place of refuge. 

If you do not have an appropriate space, notify tenants/clients about cooling spaces in the area. To locate cooling centres, check the websites and social media of your local governments or call them. Libraries, indoor shopping malls, community centres, and cinemas may have air conditioning and act as cooling centers. Parks or other shaded green space are usually cooler than other outdoor areas.   

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Equipment and Supplies Inventory 

Create an inventory of portable air conditioners, fans, and other supplies before the summer to ensure they are available when needed. Ensure equipment is in good working order. 

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Informing Tenants and Site Staff of Risks 

Housing providers should ensure proactive and effective communication with tenants/clients and building staff about: 

  • the risks of extreme heat and poor air quality
  • the signs and symptoms of related illnesses
  • how to stay safe

Identify the most effective ways to share information with tenants/clients and have a plan in place. 

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Activities Checklists 

A checklist may help you complete necessary steps during either an extreme heat event or during ‘typical’ summer temperatures. 

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Evaluation 

Once an extreme heat warning has been lifted, take time to evaluate what went well and what could be improved for future events.  

It is best to do this soon after the event, while the experience is easy to remember.  

  • Consider a tenant/client survey, if appropriate. 
  • Areas to review include: 
    • Resources and supplies  
    • Communication flow 
    • Roles and responsibilities 
    • Health outcomes for tenants/clients