Saskatoon extends extreme hot weather strategy to include wellness checks for seniors

The city is working with cultural and faith-based groups to identify seniors living in their own homes who may need to be checked on during hot days.

City hall working with community groups to identify seniors who might need check-ins during extreme heat

The City of Saskatoon is expanding its extreme hot weather strategy to include seniors. (Shutterstock)

The City of Saskatoon is working to include seniors in its strategy to keep people safe in very hot weather.

Since 2019, city hall has been helping to coordinate an extreme hot weather strategy for homeless people, offering a list of cool-down locations and organizing wellness checks and handing out bottles of water.

This year, the city is working with cultural and faith-based groups to identify seniors living in their own homes who may need to be checked on during hot days.

"What we're looking to do is connect with those groups who have that connection [with seniors] and have them join our extreme heat strategy," Pamela Goulden-McLeod, director of emergency management with the City of Saskatoon told CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning.

"They might already have connections to them and can build phone trees, all those traditional ways we reach out, so they can connect with those individuals."

The interest in helping seniors during hot weather started after the city began studying last year's heat dome incident in Vancouver.

According to a report on the incident, 619 people are believed to have died in a week-long heat wave, with temperatures that reached above 40 C.

The report showed that two-thirds of the people who died were over 70 years old and more than 80 per cent of them were on three or more chronic disease registries. 

Leisha Grebinski talks with Pamela Goulden-McLeod, the Director of the City of Saskatoon's Emergency Management, on how the city is working with a number of partners to make sure vulnerable people have access to water and a place to cool off.

As a result, Saskatoon city hall began researching ways to help seniors get access to help if they need it.

"Many of them were living by themselves and were socially isolated," said Goulden-McLeod.

"We asked how do we reach this group of older adults who are living on their own and are at risk?"

The city is supplying a checklist written by the Saskatchewan Health Authority on danger signs related to heat-related illness, including dizziness, nausea and fatigue.

The city activates its extreme heat plan if there are two or more days where it's 32 C during the day and temperatures don't drop more than 6 C at night.

Goulden McLeod said the project still needs many more community groups to join the effort.

"We can't wait until the plan is perfect. We're going to start now," she said.

"We have some groups that are already starting to look at making those connections, that are starting to make calls, that are starting to check on people, but we need more."

Any interested group is asked to contact the City of Saskatoon's Emergency Management Organization.


David Shield is a web writer for CBC Saskatoon.

With files from Saskatoon Morning


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