With the season’s first heat wave splashing into the Fraser Valley, HATS did what they do, and created a safe, cool space for Hope’s more vulnerable community members.
“I spoke with John (Fortoloczky on Thursday,) and he connected with the FVRD, and things all fell into place quite easily,” said Geraldine Dyble, Executive Director of the Hope and Area Transition Society (HATS).
Located in the Hope Rec Centre’s conference room, which is where the warming centre was located during extreme cold breaks, the cooling centre will operate from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. up to, and including, June 29.
“Extreme weather is extreme weather: it doesn’t matter if its heat or cold, (people) need a place to get reprieve,” Dyble explained.
So instead of blankets and warm outer wear, Dyble says HATS has “bought hats, sunscreen, and water to distribute to clients. We want people to be able to come in, grab a chair, sit down and res. Take advantage of this air conditioned space and use the time to escape from the heat.”
And while the cooling centre is operated by HATS, it wouldn’t be possible without the support of both the District of Hope and the Fraser Valley Regional District.
“We own the rec centre, so naturally we were consulted,” said John Fortoloczky, Chief Operating Officer for the District of Hope. “And although we’re not providing resources at this time, we do support (the effort) because it addresses public health concerns.
“We’re all just trying to do the right thing for the right reasons during a time that’s potentially dangerous to some (of our community members).”
With lower temperatures in the forecast for next week, Dyble says her team will reassess the forecast on Monday to determine if the cooling centre needs to be extended.
But an extension may require the assistance of volunteers, she added. “We never leave our volunteers alone, they’re always doubled up for safety purposes … and anyone interested can call my office on Monday and we can discuss (their suitability).”
If you can’t make it to the cooling centre and need to cope with the heat, Scott Lear, a Simon Fraser University health sciences professor, offers up the following five tips on avoiding heat exhaustion:
- Know the weather conditions beforehand so you can try and plan for it accordingly;
- Wear sunscreen and light, clothing.
- Drink fluids regularly.
- Avoid exercise, or physically exerting yourself, at peak hours of heat; if possible, exercise in an air-conditioned gym
- If you are completing an athletic event during the day and you usually train during the early morning or evening, you should also acclimatize your body to the midday heat.
“High temperatures are historically associated with an increase in deaths among Lower Mainland residents,” Fraser Health said in an Extreme Heat Alert issued Friday afternoon.
To volunteer for HATS, please contact Gerry Dyble by emailing her at Gerry@hopetransition.org, or by calling the office at 604-869-5111.
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