­Public health ­department ready to tackle heat wave

Record Staff

The Direction de santé publique de l’Estrie is on high alert as Quebec experiences its first heat wave of the summer, but safety measures have been in the works for several months, explained Dr. Alain Poirier during a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
The top concern for health officials in the region is how to beat the heat in schools and in long-term care homes. Poirier, director of the Eastern Townships’ public health department, assured citizens that action has already being taken.
As it stands, the ETSB is planning to keep schools open, but they will be implementing the guidelines put forward by the health department. Sharon Priest, Communications Consultant for the school board, says they are closely monitoring the situation.
But schools will be informing students to bring filled water bottles from home. They can refill their bottles throughout the day, but there will be a strict disinfection routine put in place in order to reduce the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus.
If there is no air conditioning in the classroom, teachers can also use portable cooling fans, despite questions linking fans to the spread of COVID-19. Addressing the issue, Poirier ensured citizens that they will be strategically placed throughout the classroom.
Fans will never be pointed directly at someone’s face and use of the rotation system is prohibited. Long-term care homes and CHSLDs in the region have already been equipped with cooling systems, and many rooms already filled with air conditioning units.
Nancy Desautels, emergency coordinator at the CIUSSS de l’Estrie – CHUS, said there was already a pre-existing intervention guide in case of extreme heat. Every hallway has air conditioning, and all CHSLDs have at least one air-conditioned room in the building.
With a limited number of COVID-19 cases in the region, residents can open their doors to allow cool air into their rooms, if they aren’t already equipped with air conditioning wall units.
The City of Magog also released a statement yesterday saying the Organisation municipale de sécurité civile de Magog (OMSCM) will monitor the situation as the heat wave ramps up over the next few days.
While the heat isn’t cause for alarm just yet, the OMSCM listed two precautions citizens can do to avoid being blindsided. They strongly recommend that people stay hydrated and limit physical activities, especially if air conditioning is inaccessible.
And, as a result of COVID-19 shutting down many public spaces, they also suggest that citizens take extra measures to ensure their own safety. Citizens are encouraged to take cold showers and baths regularly, as well as carrying around a damp towel.
The Société protectrice des animaux de l’Estrie also listed a short guideline for pet owners to follow as the heat wave rumbles on for the next several days. With temperatures rising over 30 degrees Celsius, they recommend avoiding long car rides.
Pet owners are also encouraged to take their animals on walks early in the morning or later in the evening. If they must be taken out during the day, make sure to bring a water bottle and always keep an eye out for shaded areas.

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