Heat is the number one weather-related killer in North America. In Toronto, it is estimated that 120 people die from the heat each year, compared to 105 from the cold. Ratios are similar in other cities.
In sweltering temperatures it is critical that resources are available for vulnerable people such as those experiencing homelessness, the elderly and children. They are particularly at risk for heat-related illness.
“Across Canada, warning systems and extreme weather response plans have been known to save lives,” says Major Rick Shirran, Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services Director. “In many centres, The Salvation Army partners with a network of community agencies that provide relevant services to help citizens protect themselves when high heat and humidity can be hazardous to health.”
In Ottawa, when extreme heat alerts are declared, The Salvation Army’s mobile outreach van provides assistance such as transportation to cooling centres, water and other supplies. In Barrie the Army’s shelter opens its air-conditioned lounge for homeless and at-risk individuals. In Hamilton, The Salvation Army distributes bottled water at a downtown park.
The Globe and Mail says that the federal government is warning that Canada faces greater frequency and intensity of extreme weather as a result of climate change.
Climate change is affecting the planet and society and will continue to do so for generations to come.