Southern Alberta prepares for hot, dry Stampede weekend
Fire departments, paramedics face a busy few days
Much of southern Alberta is under heat warnings as Calgary kicks off Stampede season, with more than a million people expected through the gates.
Environment Canada predicts the dry weather with high temperatures hovering around 30 C to continue through Sunday. On Monday, expect a 30 per cent chance of showers and a high of 25 C.
With the Stampede Parade scheduled for 9 a.m Friday, Alberta paramedics are getting ready to watch for signs of heat exhaustion and dehydration.
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Paramedics will be stationed along the parade route and set up in a mobile medical clinic with a physician. Alberta Health Services is warning that children, elderly people and those with medical conditions are especially susceptible, but that everyone should take precautions and watch for symptoms of sunstroke:
- Lack of sweat.
- High body temperature.
Anyone with sunstroke should remove their outer clothing and shoes, wrap themselves in a wet towel or blanket and seek medical attention.
Meanwhile, Alberta's electricity usage has hit a new summer record of 10,638 megawatts, as of 5 p.m. Thursday, which the province is linking to increased air conditioning usage.
Beating the heat
In south Calgary, six-year-old William Henderson beat the heat Thursday by hopping into Stanley Park Outdoor Pool with his little brother.
"I don't know any times it's been this hot, but I have been other places that are way hotter than this," William said, referring to a family vacation to Hawaii.
"I'm doing some games, swimming. It's really nice."
William's mother, Beth Moses, says her boys will stay in the water most of the day.
Experts also recommend to watch pets for extra panting, a sign of heat stroke, and to take preventative measures:
- Make pet popsicles by freezing treats such as carrots and blueberries in water.
- Set up a cool haven in the basement or a fan to evaporate excess heat.
- Wet your pet with a hose before walks or give them a chance to splash in a pool.
- Keep vaccinations up to date as some insects and pathogens are more active in summer.
- Mind hot pavements because warm surfaces can hurt their paw pads.
Fire prep underway
The hot, dry conditions have led to fire advisories in the Calgary area this week, and in the municipal districts and counties of Taber, Vulcan, Foothills and Willow Creek.
The southwest foothills area has one of the highest wildfire hazards in Alberta right now, says provincial wildfire information officer Matthew Anderson, so the province has brought in 40 extra firefighters from other regions as a precaution.
"We move people around," Anderson said. "It's a pretty dynamic situation, so we have the hazard right now, so the crews are down here."
Dry, hot weather increases the risk of grassfires, several fire chiefs in the region have noted. Most of the outside fires are started "due to the improper disposal of smoking materials," said Carol Henke, Calgary Fire Department spokesperson.
Provincial crews found nearly 50 abandoned and smoldering campfires along the eastern slopes of the Rockies last weekend.
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With files from Sarah Lawrynuik, Dave Gilson, Monty Kruger, Scott Dippel, Rachel Ward