PEI

High temperatures have P.E.I. employers, daycares looking for ways to beat the heat

Environment Canada has issued a heat warning for the entire Island, which is set to last through Sunday.

Environment Canada has issued a heat warning, set to last through Sunday

Man wearing baseball hat and sunglasses holding basket of strawberries in a strawberry field.
Farmer Matt Compton says ensuring workers are properly dressed, hydrated and taking an adequate number of breaks is important to making sure they stay safe in hot weather. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

Environment Canada is warning people on P.E.I. to do what they can to limit the risk of heat illnesses, as temperatures climb as high as 30 C.

The government agency has issued a heat warning for the province, which is set to last through Sunday. It says temperatures could feel as high as 38 C with the humidex.

It encourages people to only schedule outdoor activities during the coolest parts of the day.

Some Islanders, including many who need to work during the hot weather, have had to adjust their plans to stay safe during the heat.

We just want to make sure everyone is healthy and happy too.​​​​​​- Ryan Abdallah, Cedar's Eatery

Matthew Compton, owner of Compton's Farm Market and Berry Patch in Summerside, P.E.I., said warmer temperatures complicate the strawberry harvest. 

The berries ripen faster in high temperatures, and the fruit carries a lot of warmth when picked, causing it to spoil quickly if it's not consumed or stored properly, he said.

As well, strawberries need to be harvested by hand. That means workers must take precautions to stay safe in fields during the hot weather. 

Compton said in some cases, crews will pick the crops later in the day, so the weather is less warm. He also said workers dress for the heat, and are given lots of water and breaks.

"We are nowhere without our employees, and there's no strawberries in anyone's stores without our employees. There's no mechanical harvester for a strawberry, so they're everything," he said.

Adjusting workers' schedules

The owner of Cedar's Eatery in Charlottetown knows kitchens get quite warm, and is also taking measures to make work more comfortable for employees.

Man wearing face mask in commercial kitchen unwraps a cucumber with a knife.
Ryan Abdallah, the owner of Cedar's Eatery in Charlottetown, said he's adjusting the schedules of kitchen staff so that fewer people are working during the hottest hours. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

Ryan Abdallah said he adjusts the schedules of kitchen staff so they start earlier, when temperatures are cooler.

"We definitely watch the weather, to adjust our scheduling and our staff," he said.

"The health and safety of our staff is a priority, so we just want to make sure everyone is healthy and happy too."

He said his kitchen does have skylights that can be opened to let in a bit of a breeze.

More water games at daycare

At Starting Line Child Care Centre, educators are helping keep the kids cool by offering water games, and playtime that involves playing with pieces of ice.

Group of young children with instructor, playing outside. Instructor is holding a very small child.
Children at the Starting Line Child Care Centre in Cornwall, P.E.I., play underneath a hose to stay cool in warm weather. Educator Sarah Quigley, left, says staff are always monitoring children for signs of heat illness. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

"They absolutely love it, especially the water play. They love water play, running around … and then the ice, they love it. They love eating it, which is awesome," said Sarah Quigley, an educator with the centre.

She said their team is also keeping an eye out for any potential signs of heat illnesses in the children.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kate McKenna is a journalist with CBC News. kate.mckenna@cbc.ca.

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