Check on loved ones, neighbours during heat wave, health officials urge

Ottawa Public Health and paramedics are urging people to check on their loved ones and neighbours as a scorching heat wave grips the region for a sixth consecutive day.

Paramedics have responded to 175 heat-related emergencies since Friday

Children in Ottawa cool off at a splash pad Wednesday as a heat wave continues to envelop the city. (Jacques Corriveau/CBC)

Ottawa Public Health and paramedics are urging people to check on vulnerable loved ones and neighbours as a scorching heat wave grips the region for a sixth consecutive day.

Paramedics have responded to 175 calls for heat-related emergencies since the hot weather began last Friday, according to Ottawa Paramedic Service spokesperson Marc-Antoine Deschamps.

The extreme heat has also been blamed for at least 16 deaths in Quebec, including 11 in the Montreal area and five in the Eastern Townships.

"We're obviously concerned, and that's why we're teaming up with [Ottawa] Public Health and other groups and agencies who deal with people at risk," Deschamps said.

Paramedics are visiting 40 high-risk patients in their homes, but Deschamps is urging everyone in the community to keep an eye on anyone else who may be susceptible to feel the effects of the extreme heat.

Majority of patients suffer heat exhaustion or stroke, paramedics say

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Most of the emergency calls Ottawa paramedics have received so far have been for cases of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, spokesperson Marc-Antoine Deschamps said. 0:40

"If you know anybody that's part of a vulnerable group, which are mainly the very young and the very old, make sure to check up on them," Deschamps said.

Co-ordinated city response

Along with seniors and infants, people who are taking medication for Parkinson's disease or depression are also at risk, as are people who don't have access to air conditioned spaces, according to Birgit Isernhagen, an extreme weather specialist with Ottawa Public Health.

"There are a lot of people who are not protected, so really, it's about those groups that are more vulnerable," she said.

Birgit Isernhagen, an extreme weather specialist with Ottawa Public Health, says most people are heeding the agency's warnings about the extreme heat. (Marc-André Cossette/CBC)

Ottawa Public Health is working with the City of Ottawa and its partners to respond to the heat wave, Isernhagen said.

​The Salvation Army's outreach team has been roving the city in its van from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. daily to provide water bottles, hats and sunscreen to the city's homeless population.

The city has also converted lane swims to public swims at indoor and outdoor pools across the city, in addition to extending wading pool hours until 7:30 p.m.

​Environment Canada says the extreme heat will continue through tomorrow, with temperatures again forecast to climb into the low- to mid-30s. With the humidex, those temperatures will feel closer to 40 degrees on both days.

A cold front is expected to sweep through the region Friday.

With files from Idil Mussa and The Canadian Press