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First heat wave declared in Saskatchewan and across the west

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It looks like Saskatchewan is moving into the first heat wave of the year.

With a cool spring and start to the summer so far, it may come as a shock to the system, and officials are urging the public to keep safety in the top of mind.

Finding ways to stay cool will be necessary this week, and we are not alone — a heat wave was declared for many parts of western Canada.

“This is our first heat wave, and we just have to be ready for it, as far as drinking lots of water, wearing the right clothing, staying cool and inside, checking on family and friends and elderly who might not have cooling in their homes,” said Brandon Bishop, Saskatoon’s emergency management coordinator.

The mercury could hit 33 degrees in Saskatoon Thursday, 35 in Regina and a possibly 36 in Moose Jaw.

When temperatures get above 30 degrees for consecutive days, the City of Saskatoon mobilizes the extreme heat emergency response plan to help residents stay safe.

“It lets our community partners know the temperature is going to be over for an extended number of days and it’s going to be over a certain thresholdn and let us know what you need,” Bishop said.

Emergency response workers hand out 5,000 water bottles per week, according to Bishop, and the city has water stations.

Misting tents are also set up, like the one currently operating near 20th Street and Avenue P, providing reprieve from the heat. The city also has a complete list of cool-down locations on their website, which include spray parks and libraries.

“It’s just somewhere where people can go who are either homeless or inadequately housed that don’t have anywhere else to go,” he says.

In a news conference for media across western Canada on Monday, Health Canada weighed in on the potential health risks of the prolonged heat.

“It is the first heat wave so some may not be acclimatized in terms of the health risks and some may not be in the habit of protecting themselves from the heat,” said Peter Berry with Health Canada.

Another important factor with the current situation is the humidity, not typically a major factor in Saskatchewan.

“You’ve got a muggy airmass moving in and you’ve got a moisture from the vegetation that’s contributing to the muggy environment, so its going to be a limiting factor for the overnight lows. They can’t cool off when it’s that moist outside,” said Jennifer Smith with Environment and Climate Change Canada.

With these factors this week, Smith doesn’t rule out temperature records being broken in southern parts of the province, closer to the U.S. border.

The city recommends checking in on elderly and vulnerable people who don’t have air conditioning this week to ensure they are getting the help they need to beat the heat. 

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