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Chief Public Health Officer Reports Smoke and Heat Warning

The Office of the Chief Public Health Officer have released several reports concerning heat warnings and smoke exposures across the NWT.

Environment Canada issued a heat warning for the communities of Fort Providence Region (including Kakisa – Chan Lake), Fort Simpson Region (including Jean Marie River), North Slave Region (including Wekweètì, Whatì, and Behchokǫ̀), and Wrigley Region. Temperatures will be reaching near 30 degrees Celsius throughout the week for most areas with cooling trend expected by Saturday, August 20, 2022.

Exposure to extreme heat can result in heat-related illnesses including heat stroke. Symptoms of severe heat illness include: dizziness/fainting; nausea/vomiting; headaches; rapid breathing; extreme thirst and decreased urination. People at higher risk of adverse health impacts include young children, pregnant women, the elderly, people with chronic illnesses or on certain medications, and those who spend large amounts of time outdoors.

You can reduce your heat exposure and risk of illness by wearing loose-fitting/light weight clothing, staying hydrated, closing curtains and windows during the hottest hours, using air conditioners or fans, taking a cool shower or bath, visiting air conditioned buildings, and scheduling outdoor activities for cooler parts of the day. Workers and their employers should develop plans to work safely.

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People, especially children, and pets should never be left inside a parked vehicle during high temperatures. During heat waves, residents, communities, and service providers should check in at least twice per day on those who are at highest risk of heat illness, especially the elderly and those who are homeless or socially isolated. Anyone feeling unwell due to the extreme heat should seek medical attention.

Meanwhile, the North Slave Region (including Wekweètì, Whatì, and Behchokǫ̀) is experiencing environmental smoke exposure from wildfires. The wildfire smoke will primarily impact the Wekweeti and Whati areas today. Winds will shift tonight bringing smoke into the Gamètì, Behchokǫ̀ and Edzo areas. The amount of smoke may change due to weather conditions.

Exposure to smoke is highest in people who are physically active outdoors (including outdoor workers). Exposure can quickly result in sore eyes, tears, cough and runny nose. People at risk of more severe health impacts include young children, the elderly. people with diabetes, lung or heart conditions, and potentially pregnant women.

You can reduce your exposure to smoke by avoiding strenuous outdoor activities and staying indoors with windows and doors closed. Anyone experiencing serious symptoms such as wheezing, chest discomfort, or shortness of breath should go to their local health centre.

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