With scorching day on tap, Montreal opens up water parks
MONTREAL -- To help Montrealers stay cool during the first heat wave of the season, the city announced that it began gradually reopening its water parks on Tuesday.
Early Wednesday morning – when temperatures in the city had already reached the mid 20s – Environment Canada issued yet another heat wave warning for the Montreal, Laval, and Longueuil - Varennes areas. Humidex values will likely reach 40C on Wednesday, the federal weather agency said. On Thursday, temperatures will remain in the 30s.
In order to stay safe and cool, both Environment Canada and the city of Montreal are suggesting for people to drink lots of water before being thirsty; to refresh often by showering or bathing in cold water; to limit physical activity and wear light clothing.
The city noted, as well, that it has an intervention plan in place to help vulnerable populations through a heat wave, once certain criteria has been met.
"We have a heat plan that we build each year and that we improve each year with our partners," the city's Public Health Director, Mylène Drouin, said during a COVID-19 press conference on Tuesday. "To make sure that we prevent the health impacts of heat waves in our population, and specifically, in the vulnerable population..."
Boroughs will also be opening cooling stations to help residents feel more comfartable.
“We know the situation is far from ideal for the most vulnerable in this intense heat,” said Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante
If the temperature remains above 33 degrees for three days straight, and above 20 for two nights, police and firefighters will be deployed to go door to door to check on people.
See the map of open splash pads here:
CONCERN IN CARE HOMES
As the city continues to work towards controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, the heat wave poses a new threat. In many long-term care homes in the Montreal area – where COVID-19 oubtreaks have been rampant – air conditioning is limited to common areas if the centres have it at all.
With many homes being split into hot and cold zones to isolate the virus, and many common areas being off-limits to stop its spread, there are worries as to how residents and staff will fare the harsh temperatures in the coming days.
"Regarding our heat plans today we're really facing a double challenge for Montreal," Drouin said on Tuesday. "So we are in a pandemic situation, and we know that the virus is still circulating in the city, and at the same time... We have an early heat wave that we have to face in the next day."
Another COVID-19-related problem that has become obvious during the heat wave is a lack of proper ventilation in schools.
On Tuesday, a group that oversees nine teachers’ unions across Quebec voiced its opposition to schools not being able to use ventilation systems or fans because of the fear of spreading the COVID-19 virus.
Some schools that are more run-down couldn’t even open their windows on Tuesday when temperatures soared above 30C, said Sylvain Mallette, the president of the Fédération autonome de l’enseignement (FAE).
The group said it has officially requested for the CNESST to modify its rules, as it decided to ban schools from using ventilation after public health officials said the virus can be transmitted through droplets in the air.
The group said the intense heat is “unbearable” since it interferes, among other things, with students’ ability to concentrate.
With files from The Canadian Press.