Battling the Heat in British Columbia


While Canada doesn’t exactly get associated with hot temperatures, it doesn’t mean that citizens never experience some sweat here and there. Surely, the territories, as sparely populated as they may be, rarely see hot temperatures. But when we head down to the provinces, that is where people may be eyeing their shorts and t-shirts during July.

Where most of the heat happens, probably to no surprise of the residents who live there, is British Columbia. During the summer, temperatures can reach as high as 30°C. For those who are not used to living in such temperatures in Canada, the experience can be rather overwhelming.

With June just around the corner, it’s important to remind yourself of ways to combat the heat both inside and outside of the home.

1. Inspect your air conditioning unit

It’s something that might get overlooked in BC, where temperatures can drastically change throughout the year. But making sure that your AC unit is properly functioning is critical for a variety of reasons, including more energy use (and higher bills as a result) if the unit is not performing at its maximum capacity.

Although it’ll mean some money out of your pocket, it is recommended that you get your AC unit inspected by a professional at least once a year.

2. Hydration

Water. We know we should drink more of it, but few of us actually heed our own advice. While each person has different needs depending on their body and overall lifestyle, it’s definitely a good idea to up your intake as the temperatures begin to rise in BC.

If you’re going for a bike ride or just a stroll through Vancouver’s Stanley Park or Queen Elizabeth Park on a summer day, have some sort of hydration vessel with you, and know the signs of dehydration.

  • Tiredness/dizziness
  • Dry skin
  • Headache
  • Cramps

In more extreme cases, dehydration can lead to confusion, rapid heartbeat, and fever.

If you are feeling energetic and keep sweating in the heat, it’s a sign that you’re probably good with hydration. Over-hydration can be just as dangerous, if not worse than dehydration. Know what you need when you need it.

3. Wear loose, light-coloured clothing

This goes back to early grade school science: darker colours absorb more heat. Clothing is no exception. On hotter days, making sure that you and your family have loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing is an important way to battle the heat. The lighter weight the material, the better as well.

4. Give special attention to the elderly

As the body gets older, it doesn’t respond to heat as easily and as readily as it does for younger people. Apart from an aging body, elderly people may be taking medications that can interfere with body temperature regulation.

This is why it’s important for family members and friends to keep a close watch on the elderly. Those in care should encourage regular intake of hydrating fluids.

If the elderly live on their own, it’s also important to make sure that their AC unit is properly functioning, and that their air filters have been replaced. Make it a point to ask them when the last time such appliances have been inspected.

3 Smart Home Advantages

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Technology is changing how we interact with daily life—how we communicate to one another, how we travel (think of the emergence of self-driving cars), and now…how we manage and control items within the home. When thinking of smart home gadgets and accessories, you automatically think of how that makes everyday tasks easier. And with that comes 3 great advantages: home automation, enhanced home security and greener living.

Here’s how each is a key advantage of having a smart home—with examples of products available to homeowners.

Home Automation

Home automation enables the remote access of household products using a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet. This means that anywhere you go, things such as thermostats, lights, door locks, garages and appliances can be controlled and monitored. With an app and a centralized home hub (such as the Amazon Echo, Lenovo Smart Assistant, Samsung SmartThings, etc.) homes are being quickly transformed. The following products provide a small example of home automation devices.

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• Ecobee3 Thermostat with Sensor (2nd Generation)

The Ecobee3 is a smart thermostat that connects via Wi-Fi. It also comes with room sensors that individually read and can adjust the temperatures in various rooms—unlike your run-of-the-mill thermostat that only reads one home temperature. What’s more is that when no one is occupying a room, the Ecobee3 automatically sets a temperature that will help enhance energy savings (such as increasing the A/C temperature during the summer, rather than keeping it cooler).

Much like many smart devices available, the Ecobee3 is compatible with Amazon Alexa, for hand-free voice control—you just need a device that supports Alexa (such as the Echo or Echo Dot). It is also compatible with Apple HomeKit (a home hub that operates through Apple TV). Temperatures can also be remotely adjusted via the Ecobee app. So this one device not only has remote accessibility when away, but it also operates via voice command while at home.

• Wemo Light Switch

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Get home, go turn the lights on; leave the room, turn the lights off—it’s a process everyone does…until now. The Wemo light switch allows you to remotely automate lights anywhere you are. Whether it’s a living room lamplight, porch light or hallway light, you can remotely turn them on or off with the touch of a smart screen.

Imagine getting home late at night; rather than fumbling around in the dark, you can turn your lights on before leaving the car. The Wemo also has additional features, such as: light schedules for both day and night & an “Away Mode” that essentially replaces traditional light timers for the instances that you are out of town. In addition to the app for remote accessibility, this device also works with Amazon Alexa. So it’ll respond to voice commands while you are at home.

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• NEXX GARAGE Remote Garage Door Opener

There are times that you question whether or not you’ve closed the door—usually after you’ve driven off and are away. The NEXX remote garage opener can be managed remotely via an app (as long as your smartphone or tablet has a Wi-Fi connection). You can even monitor the history of your garage door opening and closing—a great security feature. A particularly great thing about this device is that it can be easily installed yourself and it’s compatible with most garage door openers.

Enhanced Home Security

Smart devices help enhance home security by allowing homeowners to view and monitor what happens both inside and outside their homes. Some devices are even compatible with home security providers, but you’ll have to check to see what devices are compatible with various security systems. The following devices help boost home security protection.

• Ring Video Doorbell Pro

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The Ring Video Doorbell Pro combines the simplicity of a doorbell yet adds a security camera and 2-way voice. So any time anyone approaches and rings the doorbell, the homeowner is alerted on their smartphone/tablet of the visitor. They can both see the visitor with the built-in camera AND be able to speak to them. If the homeowner is unavailable to answer, the Ring Video Doorbell has an away feature that delivers customized away messages.

• Nest Cam Indoor security camera

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Devices such as the Ring Video Doorbell provide remote security outside the home, but other devices, such as the Nest Cam Indoor security camera, monitor what’s occurring within the home. The device can be mounted nearly anywhere and features 2-way audio for voice communication. The Nest Cam Indoor security camera also has a motion detector; when it detects motion, it will take snapshots of the detected area. Alerts are then sent to the homeowner’s phone via text or email.

Greener Living

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In particular, home automation capabilities greatly help homes cut down on energy consumption. Since devices can be managed and controlled anywhere using a smartphone or tablet, it’s easier to program the thermostat to a specific temperature or turn lights on/off. Just as a reference, home heating is 40% of an energy bill. Each degree lowered (in the cooler months) or increased (in the hotter months) saves about $5. A light bulb accidentally left on during the night costs over $20. So home automation is a great component when it comes to green living. Your energy bill will thank you with this smart home technology.

Fort McMurray, Alberta is Up in Flames as Wildfire Wrecks Havoc

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A raging wildfire is sweeping across Alberta, Canada. The hot, dry, windy weather in the area have helped fuel the fire (which started on May 1st) and continues to cause widespread devastation in the city of Fort McMurray Currently, roughly 90,000 people have been forced to evacuate; and those who lived in the Northern parts of Fort McMurray had to be rescued and flown over the uncontrolled fire. People continue to scramble southward for safety.

How the Wildfire Started

No one knows how the fire began; it’s unclear whether it is from natural causes (such as lightening) or whether it’s man-related (such as from a cigarette butt or arson). Either way, a total of over 200,000 acres and growing have been incinerated and countless homes and businesses have been ruined. To put that into perspective, the fire is larger than Chicago and Boston put together.

Recent reports indicate that upwards of 2,000 structures have gone up in flames—although there are no confirmed fatalities. With so many evacuees who have lost their homes and businesses, the best way to currently help is to get in touch with several organizations that are providing assistance.

How You Can Help Fort McMurray Evacuees

There are several great organizations that are providing assistance. Please feel free to get in-touch with any of these:

  • The Edmonton Food Bank is accepting food-related assistance. They are taking both food and monetary donations. To sent a direct online money donation, you can go to here. Food items can be dropped off at any number of Alberta grocery stores and fire stations. Check with your local grocery store and fire station to make sure they are receiving donations.
  • The Edmonton Emergency Relief Services Society is accepting everyday items (from toiletries, bedding, clothing, diapers, etc.).
  • The Canadian Red Cross is able to provide shelter, food, clothing and a number of personal services to Alberta fire victims. Monetary donations can be sent here.