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Here's what the City of Ottawa has been doing during the heatwave

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As Ottawa enters the fourth and what is expected to be final day of a June heatwave, City of Ottawa officials say several municipal departments have been out at work trying to help residents manage.

Temperatures in Ottawa have reached the low 30s C throughout each day this week, with humidex values in the low 40s. The forecast is predicting a break in the heat heading into the weekend.

In the meantime, Ottawa Fire Chief and acting General Manager of Emergency and Protective Services Paul Hutt says firefighters and fire prevention officers have been doing wellness checks alongside Ottawa police officers at buildings with little or no access to air conditioning.

"To date, OFS staff have visited over 200 buildings. They have been assessing what access to air conditioning is available and are also speaking to property managers and residents directly to ensure that they receive the information and supports they need," Hutt said in a memo to city councillors.

People in need of assistance can call 3-1-1. To date, Hutt says only one heat-related call has been made to 3-1-1 as of Wednesday night.

There has been, however, a steady increase in emergency department visits this week for suspected heat-related issues. Ottawa Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches says the longer a heat event lasts, the more it can cause problems for people who are vulnerable to extreme heat, such as those with chronic illnesses.

"What we know from other parts of the world when this kind of extended heat wave happens, it's after a couple of days that we tend to see more signs of people getting into distress," medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches told CTV Morning Live.

Hutt said health harms are likely to continue until the heatwave breaks.

"We’d like to take this opportunity to remind everyone not to exert themselves outside, to drink lots of water, and to call 9-1-1 at any sign of heat stroke (e.g., dizziness, disorientation, seizures, hot and dry skin, rapid heart beat)," he wrote.

City outreach services, meanwhile, have been working with the Salvation Army to distribute water and provide information on where people can go to access air conditioning and cool off. The Ottawa Public Health team has also been on the ground to reach populations in neighborhoods where barriers to health are greater, Hutt said.

The City has also made recreation and cultural facilities available to residents as cooling centres, converted lane swims at City pools to public swim to increase overall public access, and extended outdoor pool hours at six locations.

The emergency management department has been in regular contact with Hydro Ottawa about planned and unplanned outages in the heat.

Hydro Ottawa tells CTV News that while it anticipates a rise in electricity consumption due to air conditioning and other cooling measures, the system is designed to handle these peak loads.

"Should any issues arise, our crews will be ready to respond quickly," a spokesperson said.

On Monday, there was an outage in south Ottawa that affected more than 10,000 customers, including the Ottawa Airport, that lasted for approximately one hour. A cause for the outage was not communicated by the time power had been restored. No other major outages have been reported this week.

When it comes to power consumption, Hydro Ottawa offers several tips for residents:

  • Where cooling is essential, set your thermostats between 25 and 26 degrees Celsius (between 77 and 79 degrees F) or use fans to circulate cool air.
  • Open windows in the evening or at night to draw in naturally cool air, if possible.
  • Keep the blinds/curtains/shades closed to keep the sun and heat out.
  • Use small appliances, microwave ovens or BBQ’s if possible for cooking.
  • Minimize the use of your dryer. Where practical, dry clothes by hanging them outside.
  • Minimize the use of hot water. Take a cool shower on a hot day.
  • Reduce the amount of times you open refrigerators and freezers – and how long you keep the doors open.
  • Reduce lighting levels. Turn lights off when leaving the room and only use essential internal and external lighting.
  • Delaying the use of major power-consuming equipment such as dishwashers, washers and dryers, and swimming pool pumps until after 8 p.m.

Hutt is encouraging residents to check in on their neighbours today, with another hot and humid day in the forecast.

"Caring and awareness on the part of all community members plays a significant part of the City’s response to extreme weather events," he wrote.

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