MONTREAL -- Some Montrealers have a tough balance to strike this week.

Many are in quarantine after exposure to a COVID-19 case, because they’ve been travelling, or even if they’ve tested positive themselves. 

But of course, there’s a heat wave on. And only about 70 per cent of Montrealers have air conditioning.

That means that some of the people who need to escape the heat at home for their own health are the same people who aren’t supposed to leave home for other people’s health.

“Anybody who can possibly stay at home and respect [quarantine] at home should do it,” said Dr. David Kaiser of Montreal public health.

“But heat is a killer, and so people who are in hot apartments, where they’ve been exposed to extreme heat for three to four days now… their immediate health is at risk.”

For those people, he said, “my message to them is, you can get out of that hot apartment.”

With temperatures as hot as those in this week’s heat wave, the risk of heat stroke and heat exhaustion is real, said public health authorities.

But they ask everybody who’s in quarantine to take every possible precaution if they leave: they should wear a mask and find a cool spot outdoors.

If that’s impossible, they’re asked to call 811 to find out where they can find a safe indoor cooling zone, which is often in a health-care facility.

“All of the [regional health boards] have been working together to make sure that we offer zones for those vulnerable people according to their COVID status,” said Caroline Dusablon of the Centre-South health district.

Public health has also deployed teams to check on people who may need help, especially those suffering from a variety of health conditions.

COVID-19 aside, they’re also asking all Montrealers to help out by thinking of friends, family or neighbours who may be at risk from the heat and checking in on them.