New Brunswick

Heat alert system launched for province's municipalities

The Department of Health has launched the new heat alert and response system to municipalities across the province.

New Brunswickers will be warned of high temperatures

The Department of Health's heat alert system has three levels of the type of alerts to be issued. (File Photo)

The Department of Health has launched the new heat alert and response system to municipalities across the province. 

The system will alert citizens about extreme heat, allowing them to take the proper precautions to prevent dehydration and heat stroke.

The system had a five-year test run in Fredericton before being expanded to all cities and some towns. 

"I suspect that it's just a matter of time before we'll see all municipalities as well as community stakeholders ... that will be part of this system as well," said Dr. Yves Léger, Medical Officer of Health for the East region. 

Dr. Jennifer Russell, acting Chief Medical Officer of Health, says the number of abnormally hot days is on the rise, and the consequences can be fatal. 

"Here in Canada during extreme heat events in B.C. in 2009 we had 159 deaths and in Montreal in 2010 during an extreme heat event there were 111 deaths."

How the system works  

In the event of extreme heat, New Brunswickers in participating municipalities will receive a warning via social media and the government's website. 

The system is comprised of three tiers;

  • Heat Alert – Level 1: humidex 35 - 39 for one day;
  • High Heat Alert – Level 2: humidex forecast 40 - 44 for one day or longer; and
  • Extreme Heat Alert – Level 3: humidex forecast greater than 45 for one day or longer.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, acting Chief Medical Officer of Health and Dr. Yves Léger, Medical Officer of Health for the East region, take part in an announcement for the new heat alert system. (CBC)
Léger explained many factors determine what level of heat alert is issued once they receive information from Environment Canada. 

"We do the assessment as well of not only the temperature but also the humidity levels, so the humidex. As well as how long during the day we'll actually reach that alert level."

The Department of Health issued a detailed list of precautions to follow on abnormally hot days, such as staying out of the sun and drinking more water. 

Risks of high heat

The elderly, the very young, the homeless and the socially isolated are vulnerable groups to high heat, Léger said.

"When there's a heat alert I want to remind New Brunswickers to be attentive to heat-related signs and symptoms with themselves as well as any vulnerable individuals that they may know."

The heat alert system will warn people to take precautions during hot weather. (Asha Siad/CBC)
Signs and symptoms of heat-related illness include headaches, light headedness, feeling faint or weak as well as sweating profusely, Léger says.

"If those aren't identified and addressed rapidly then that can progress to more severe conditions such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke," he added. 

Municipalities participating in the heat alert system are: 

  • South region: St. Stephen, Grand Bay-Westfield, Saint John, Rothesay, Quispamsis, Hampton and Sussex
  • North region : Bathurst, Acadian Peninsula, Campbellton, Edmunston and Grand Falls
  • Central region: Fredericton, Oromocto and Florenceville-Bristol
  • East region: Moncton, Dieppe, Riverview and Miramichi