Heat Alert Response Protocol

Stay calm. Stay cool.

Resources for extreme heat events in Williams Lake

The City of Williams Lake is committed to making sure everyone in our community stays healthy and cool during extreme heat events. This page contains information and resources on how to prepare for extreme heat season as well as what to do when a heat alert is issued. 

CoWL Website - No Heat Warning (2)

Prepare for extreme heat season

Before an extreme heat event

It’s important to have an emergency plan that covers what to do during extreme heat. Follow these steps to create a plan for your household.

1.) Identify loved ones who will need extra care and support during a heatwave.
 This includes:

  • Seniors aged 65 years or older
  • People who live alone
  • People with pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or respiratory disease
  • People with mental illness such as schizophrenia, depression, or anxiety
  • People with substance use disorders
  • People who are marginally housed
  • People who work in hot environments
  • People who are pregnant
  • Infants and young children
  • People with limited mobility

2.) Check you have enough supplies. Useful items include:

  • Bottled water
  • Medications
  • First-aid kit
  • Infant formula and diapers
  • Pet food 
  • Batteries
  • Digital thermometer to track indoor temperatures
  • Fans or air-conditioning units (check they are in good condition)
  • Window covers 


3.) Know where to go if your home gets too hot. This can include libraries, shopping malls, and cooling centres. Ideally, choose a location where you will enjoy spending time, as it can take a long time to cool off after getting overheated. Consider whether you will have access to water or if you should bring some with you to stay hydrated. Make sure to write down your preferred locations in your emergency plan.   

The following cooling spaces are options to consider during heat alerts or extreme heat events. Hours vary depending on location.

  • Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex (until 8 pm daily)
  • Seniors Activity Centre
  • Retail outlets
  • Williams Lake Library
  • Restaurants
  • Churches
  • Williams Lake Salvation Army
  • Cariboo Community Church

Types of Heat Alerts 

B.C. has two levels of heat alerts: heat warnings and extreme heat emergencies. 

Heat Warning

A Heat Warning means that temperatures have reached a level that poses a moderate risk to the public. 

Take the following steps:

  • Stay hydrated and avoid excessive outdoor activities. Use fans or air conditioning to keep cool.
  • Check on heat-vulnerable individuals. This includes seniors, individuals with pre-existing health conditions or mental health disorders, people who are pregnant or live alone, as well as infants and young children.
  • Be prepared to take additional necessary actions.

Extreme Heat Emergency

An Extreme Heat Emergency notification means that temperatures have reached dangerously high levels. The risk to public health is very high. Take immediate action to protect yourself and others.

What you need to know:

  • Monitor indoor temperatures and avoid sustained exposure to temperatures above 26°C.
  • If you have no means to cool your home, relocate to another cooler location, such as libraries, shopping malls, movie theatres, and cooling centres. 
  • If you are caring for a vulnerable individual, prioritize moving them to a cooler location.

Stay informed by signing up for the City of William Lake’s Everbridge Alert. You will receive up-to-date notifications of heat alerts.

What to do during an Extreme Heat Event

A Heat Alert will be issued by the City of Williams Lake when high temperatures are expected for two or more consecutive days. To protect yourself during extreme heat events, take the following steps:

  • Check on family members, neighbours, and friends who are vulnerable to heat and make sure they are comfortable and safe.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and drinks that are high in sugar. 
  • Slow down! Avoid outdoor activities during the hottest hours of the day. Plan activity before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m.
  • If you need to be outdoors, wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. And don’t forget your sunscreen! Sunburn decreases the body’s ability to cool. 
  • Keep windows, blinds, or curtains closed during the day to prevent excessive heat from entering homes.
  • If you have access to air conditioning, turn it on to maintain a comfortable environment. It is not necessary to set it to the highest level; even a moderate setting can help ensure your safety.

Did you know?

  • Indoor temperatures typically peak around 9 p.m. This means indoor environments may be most hazardous during the overnight period. Check that the outside temperature is cooler than inside before opening windows and doors. 
  • Sustained exposure to temperatures between 26°C and 31°C may pose a risk to the most susceptible individuals. Sustained exposure to temperatures above 31°C should be avoided whenever possible. Use thermometers to monitor indoor temperatures.  
  • Fans alone cannot effectively lower core body temperature, especially for older adults. Additional measures may be necessary to stay cool and safe. 

Types of Heat Illnesses

Overheating can pose a serious threat to your health. It is essential to take appropriate measures to stay cool and avoid prolonged exposure to extreme heat.

There are two types of heat illnesses: heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Each requires a different set of actions. Look for the following symptoms.

Heat Exhaustion

  • Heavy sweating
  • Headache
  • Muscle cramps
  • Feeling unwell
  • Extreme thirst
  • Dark urine

 What to do:

Seek a cooler environment, drink plenty of water, take a cool shower, and get some rest.

Heat Stroke

  • High body temperature
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness, or fainting
  • Flushed skin
  • Dry skin, no sweating
  • Nausea or vomiting

 What to do:

Call 911 immediately. A heat stroke is a medical emergency. While waiting for help, move the person to a cooler place if possible and place ice packs or cool wet towels on the neck, armpits and groin.