Although BC’s temperatures are slowly easing from the weekend’s heatwave, BC is still in for a hot and dry summer

On Tuesday, BC’s chief Coroner, Lisa Lapointe reported a large spike in deaths as a result of BC’s heat wave.

Over the weekend, Vancouver Island hospitals saw an increase in heat related emergency room visits, putting pressure on emergency room staff and available beds. 

Along with an influx of health related visits, July 1st tends to be one of the busiest days of the day for emergency room visits.

As a result and in preparation for more hot weather and July 1st, Island Health is now asking the public’s assistance in determining appropriate emergency department use.

Island Health hopes by providing clarification on emergency situations as well as tips to avoid trips to the emergency room, there will be a reduced amount of visits overall, allowing emergency departments to continue to meet the needs of patients accordingly.

“When people use our emergency departments wisely it goes a long way in helping dedicated emergency room physicians, nurses and clinical staff provide timely, quality care to patients who truly need emergency care,” said Dr. Ben Williams, Vice President, Medicine, Quality and Chief Medical Executive at Island Health.

Island Health suggests some simple steps to avoid unnecessary trips to the emergency room: 

  • If you need non-urgent care, book an appointment with your family doctor or visit a walk-in clinic or urgent primary care centre;
  • Take precautions to avoid heat-related illness, such as:
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and drink water before you feel thirsty;
  • Wear sunscreen, a hat and loose fitting clothing;
  • Avoid liquids that contain alcohol, caffeine or large amounts of sugar;
  • Seek cooler, breezier areas when outdoors;
  • Take it slow with outdoor activities, especially during peak hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
  • Learn more about heat safety tips here.
  • Wash your hands frequently to avoid getting sick and spreading germs;
  • See your doctor before the weekend and/or holidays, if necessary, to avoid long        wait-times in the Emergency Department;
  • Note the weekend and holiday hours of your local pharmacy/drug store, and ensure your prescriptions are up to date;
  • Make sure you have basic pharmaceuticals on hand to control adult and children’s fever and pain;
  • Become familiar with walk-in clinic locations in your area, and their hours of operation;
  • Wear a seatbelt when operating or riding in a motor vehicle;
  • Don’t drink and drive; and
  • Wear the right footwear to avoid falling or slipping.

If you or someone in your care is in need of emergency medical treatment go to the Emergency Department at your local hospital or call 911. 

If you are unsure whether or not your situation requires emergency care, call HealthLink BC at 811 to speak to a nurse, 24 hours a day. 

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