In Canada, there are more people suffering from extreme heat and poor quality events than any other natural disasters combined, but many people are not aware of the dangers.
Building managers and housing providers should ensure proactive and effective communication with tenants and building staff about the risks of extreme heat and poor air quality, the signs and symptoms of related illnesses, and how to stay safe.
What to do to be prepared
- Check for hot weather warnings and for poor air quality reports, and let tenants know when they may be at risk
- Remind tenants how to stay cool and breathe safely with verbal, written, and illustrated communication
- 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
- Have building meetings and emphasize the risks, related illness symptoms, and precautionary measures
- Ensure that your building staff is aware of the risks, symptoms, what to do, and how to communicate with tenants
- 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 issues weather related health warnings
- Create a map of public places in the neighbourhood where tenants can go to cool off or breath in filtered air (places with filtered air conditioning/HVAC systems), review it during building meetings, and post it on building message boards.
- The map may include places such as community centres, libraries, shopping malls, cinemas, etc.
Planning and Response Tools
BC Housing has created some tools that can help you prepare for and respond to Extreme Heat events.
Planning for Extreme Heat should ideally be done few months ahead of time, in February and March. This involves testing cooling equipment as well as creating communications and response plans. Check out our Extreme Heat Check List for more information on what you need to do and when.
If you do not have a response plan in place, check out our Extreme Heat Decision Tree to see what you should do in an Extreme Heat event. However, the best responses require pre-season planning and employee training.
Learn more: Preparing for Extreme Heat Poor Air Quality webinar.