How to stay cool and safe in the heat in Montreal

Those looking to cool off may find it a bit harder than usual given all the malls, pools and cinemas are still closed.

Splash pads are opening around the city after public health gives green light

With many air-conditioned places closed because of the pandemic, these Montreal residents found a way to keep cool at Place Jacques-Cartier in the Old Port Wednesday morning. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

Montreal is opening about 20 of its air-conditioned buildings and turning splash pads on across the city so residents have ways to keep cool while temperatures soar over the next few days.

At the same time, Mayor Valérie Plante is stressing the need to stay vigilant against the threat of COVID-19 by following public health guidelines at all times.

"I know the situation is far from being ideal for those most vulnerable people with this very intense heat," said Plante during a Wednesday news briefing.

"The city is busy, working to offer quick and efficient cooling stations while, of course, respecting the directives given by public health and the government of Quebec."

Environment Canada issued a heat warning Tuesday, its first of the year. The temperature in Montreal will hover around the low 30s until Friday.

As soon as that warning was issued, public health officials began advising people to take extra precautions to stay cool and hydrated.

They say the biggest concern is for people in vulnerable situations, including children and the elderly who can easily overheat.

Adults must ensure children are drinking water and staying inside during the hottest times of the day, said Dr. Mylène Drouin, the city's public health director.

Drouin said those who are in self-isolation because of COVID-19 symptoms need to stay in self-isolation. She recommended taking cold baths and keeping window curtains closed to stay cool at home. 

Quebec public health also recommends people drink six to eight glasses of water a day and spend at least two hours in a cool or air conditioned place.

Drouin encourages people to do their part by checking in on anybody they know who may be at risk, including seniors and those with health conditions. 

The province's long-term care homes are also bracing for the impact of the extreme heat, as fewer than a third of the rooms have air conditioning.

Montreal's public health director is encouraging people to check on seniors to make sure they are keeping cool during the heat wave. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

Check your borough for updates on splash pads

Drouin said her officials are working with Montreal to find alternatives for people without air-conditioning who no longer have access to cool, indoor public spaces, with places such as malls and cinemas closed.

Libraries, for example, are set to open later this week, but not for browsing.

Health officials have encouraged the city to open public splash pads for children to cool off as a first step while municipal leaders look at other ways to help residents beat the heat while maintaining physical distancing rules.

Boroughs are moving at different paces, so it's best to follow the city website and borough social media pages for updates.

As soon as splash pads were given the green light Tuesday, crews were out turning on the water in boroughs like Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce and Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie.

Montréal-Nord says the ones at Aimé-Léonard and Ménard parks are open. Those in Monty and Primeau parks are expected to open on May 27. 

Markings on the ground will promote physical distancing and the water will be on continuously to avoid having to press buttons, the borough says.

Verdun's chief of staff, Étienne Brunet, said some splash pads were open Tuesday and more are on the way.

Plante encourages people of all ages to take advantage of the refreshing water games. Some will be open late, she said.

Several opened on Tuesday and kids were quick to take advantage of the fun.

The city has published a map online so people can easily locate splash pads and places to cool off.

Montreal's public health director explains why splash pads are safe: 

Public health urging Montreal to open splash pads

1 year ago
Montreal public health director Mylène Drouin says splash pads are safe, but the same sanitary measures must be maintained 0:50

Some local beaches and parks open 

The City of Montreal has reopened most of its green spaces and parks, though many of its parking lots are still closed. 

Access to Île Notre-Dame is now permitted, but its parking lot is closed. People can also access Parc Jean-Drapeau and the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve. 

The parking lots of La Fontaine, Maisonneuve, Jarry and Fréderic-Back parks are still closed, as well as that of the nature park on Île-de-la-Visitation.

At the beach in Verdun, Brunet said there are no lifeguards available. However, he said, the beach is technically open as it is in a public park so swimming is "at your own risk."

Public health guidelines, such as staying two metres apart, must be respected and Montreal police will be out ensuring people are doing their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19, he said.

Parc-nature du Cap-Saint-Jacques is open in Pierrefonds-Roxboro, but services, including washrooms, are closed until further notice.

Montreal-area residents are banned from visiting Oka provincial park, according to the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake. But the park's website says little about this agreement as of Tuesday.

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