As summer peaks in British Columbia, the scorching heat calls for special attention and preparedness, especially for seniors. Due to chronic health conditions, challenges with regulating body temperature, and other factors, the elderly are more vulnerable to extreme temperatures. With that in mind, our Port Coquitlam long-term care community is sharing our top heatwave safety tips for seniors to make navigating the hotter days a breeze.

The Foundation of Heatwave Safety: Staying Hydrated

Hydration is paramount during a heatwave. Seniors often have a diminished sense of thirst, making it crucial to consciously consume enough fluids. Here are some practical tips:

  1. Drink Water Regularly: Aim for at least 8 glasses of water a day, even if you’re not feeling thirsty. Keep a water bottle handy and take sips throughout the day.
  2. Electrolyte Balance: Incorporate drinks that replenish electrolytes, like coconut water or electrolyte solutions, especially after sweating. Most electrolyte beverages are available in exotic flavours, which can also make drinking water feel more exciting and appealing.
  3. Fruits and Vegetables: Consume hydrating foods such as watermelon, cucumbers, oranges, and strawberries. These not only provide water but also essential nutrients to nourish the body and sustain energy levels.
  4. Avoid Dehydrating Beverages: Limit intake of alcohol, caffeine, and sugary drinks as they can lead to dehydration. Instead, opt for water, herbal teas, or beverages specifically designed to rehydrate, such as oral rehydration solutions or drinks with balanced electrolytes.

Keeping Indoor Spaces Cool: Your Home as a Sanctuary

Creating a cool indoor environment is essential for comfort and safety during a heatwave. Here’s are some ways of keeping high temperatures at bay in your living space:

  1. Air Conditioning: Use air conditioning during the hottest parts of the day to keep indoor temperatures comfortable. Also be sure to keep doors, windows and separate bedroom doors closed to prevent cool air from escaping and letting warm air in. At Shaughnessy Seniors Community, we offer professional maintenance services to ensure air conditioning and other home appliances are working properly at all times.
    Tip: Because air conditioning units and fans are in high demand during heatwaves, ensure you purchase an air conditioner or fan far enough in advance to beat the crowds.
  2. Fans and Ventilation: Use fans to circulate air. Ceiling fans should rotate counterclockwise to push cooler air down. Open windows during cooler parts of the day and close them (along with curtains or blinds) when the temperature rises.
  3. Cool Showers and Baths: Taking cool showers or baths can help lower your body temperature. Splashing water on the face, or applying a cool damp cloth on the top of the head and back of the neck throughout the day can help the body stay cool during particularly hot times of day.
  4. Block Out Heat: Close curtains or shades during the day to block out the sun’s rays and prevent the temperature from rising inside the home.

Outdoor Safety: Enjoying the Sunshine Responsibly

While it’s often tempting to enjoy the beautiful BC summer outdoors, it’s important to do so wisely. Follow these tips to stay safe outside:

  1. Time Your Outings: Avoid going out during the hottest part of the day, typically between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Instead, plan to head out early in the morning or later in the day once the temperature cools off.
  2. Dress Appropriately: Wear lightweight, breathable clothing that allows for air circulation and opt for loose-fitting garments where possible. Natural fabrics like cotton, linen and bamboo are the wisest choices because they are breathable, absorb moisture, and dry quickly. Light coloured clothing is also ideal, as it allows for less heat absorption overall.
  3. Stay protected: Be sure to where UV-blocking sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat to support vision and get adequate protection from sun exposure.
  4. Sunscreen is Essential: Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 to all exposed skin, and reapply every two hours, or more often if sweating.
  5. Seek Shade: If you must be outdoors, stay in the shade as much as possible. Use umbrellas or portable canopies when necessary.
  6. Limit Physical Activity: Try to avoid or reduce overly strenuous activities, as they can increase your body temperature. Instead, opt for gentler exercises like walking or yoga in shaded areas.

Precautionary Measures: Preparing for Extreme Heat

When it comes to handling heatwaves like a pro, preparation is key. Here are some precautionary measures to help you stay safe and beat the heat:

  1. Emergency Plan: Have an emergency plan in place, including a list of emergency contacts. Inform family, friends, or neighbors about your plan.
  2. Check Medications: Some medications can affect your body’s ability to regulate temperature. Consult with your healthcare provider or caregiver to understand any potential risks.
  3. Cooling Products: Keep cooling products like cooling towels, gel packs, or personal fans on hand for immediate relief from the heat when needed.
  4. Stay Informed: Keep an eye on weather forecasts and heat advisories. Local news, radio stations, and community alerts can provide timely information to help you stay ahead of the game.
  5. Health Monitoring: Pay attention to signs of heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Symptoms include heavy sweating, dizziness, nausea, headache, rapid heartbeat, and confusion. Seek medical help immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.

Rely on Social Connections & Community Support

Staying connected with friends, family members, and others in your community can make a big difference when it comes to your safety, especially during a heatwave. Leverage the support of your network by:

  1. Staying in touch: Checking in regularly with family, friends, or neighbours, either in person or via phone, is a great way of ensuring that everyone is safe and well. Don’t be shy to reach out and ask for a helping hand when needed – that’s what friends are for!
  2. Community Centres: If you do decide to venture out in the day, try to utilize air-conditioned public spaces such as community centres, libraries, restaurants, or shopping malls to cool down.
  3. Share Resources: If you know someone who lacks adequate cooling in their home, invite them over to your place! At Shaughnessy Seniors Community, our air-conditioned public areas offer a cool and comfortable atmosphere for residents and their visitors to gather and connect.


Seniors are particularly susceptible to the dangers of heatwaves, making it essential to take proactive measures to stay safe. By staying hydrated, keeping indoor spaces cool, practicing outdoor safety, preparing for extreme heat, and fostering community connections, seniors can make the most of the beautiful BC summer while minimizing the risks associated with high temperatures. At a Shaughnessy Seniors Community, seniors’ well-being is always a top priority. Our Port Coquitlam long-term care community offers exceptional, personalized service, access to around-the-clock care by accredited nurses, and thoughtful amenities to enrich daily living.

Wondering what life could look like at Shaughnessy Seniors Community? Book a tour to explore the comfortably furnished suites, picturesque garden courtyard, inviting public spaces, and much more that await at this seniors’ care community in the Tri-Cities.