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:

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.


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.


Tenant/Client Vulnerability Assessment and Extreme Weather Check-In Plan

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


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 provideprotection from heat-related illness and improve comfort. Air conditioners andair 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 centres. Parks or other shaded green space are usually cooler than other outdoor areas.  


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.


Sourcing Equipment

If you are a non-profit housing provider in B.C. in need of extreme heat and wildfire smoke related equipment, please contact your NPPM/SHA to discuss funding support options. BC Housing will be maintaining extreme heat and wildfire smoke supplies in cases of emergency and supply shortages, we encourage our partners try to source equipment directly locally. If you are unable to source equipment directly, please email [email protected] with your request

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.


Activities Checklists

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



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