Climate Resiliency & Planning
These maps advance our collective understanding of what increases the impacts of climate change for some individuals and communities and contribute to conversations about becoming more resilient.
Climate change hazards
Climate change is already greatly influencing our lives in British Columbia (B.C.). Over the next decades, we expect B.C. to see an increase in several climate-related hazards including heat events, poor air quality, flooding, and other extreme weather events. We know that these hazards negatively affect the physical, mental, and social health of residents living in the region served by Interior Health.
IH’s Community Health and Climate Change maps offer an opportunity to advance our collective understanding about what increases the impacts of climate change for some individuals and communities and contribute to conversations about becoming more resilient by;
- Raising awareness at the community level to advance conversations about climate change, equity, and health
- Supporting local governments in climate adaptation planning
- Deepening collaborations with Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities
- Mobilizing multi-sectoral efforts to improve climate-related community health outcomes
- Pinpointing physiological and social determinants of health pertinent to climate change
- Identifying sub-regions that may need more resources to support current and future climate-related stresses and shocks
Four commonly experienced climate-related hazards in B.C. are:
- High temperatures
- Low temperatures
- Wildfire smoke
Access more climate information:
Community Health & Climate Change Maps
Community Health & Climate Change Maps are a snapshot (in time) that project risks and probability related to weather-related events in the Interior. These maps can promote mobilization of multi-sectoral efforts in preparation, mitigation, and adaptation to improve community health outcomes. These maps can help pinpoint some of the physiological and social determinants of health that play key roles in climate vulnerability. Additionally, they can also identify sub-regions that may need more resources or support to help cope with current and future climate-related stresses and shocks.
Community Health & Climate Change Maps offer users with a starting point for discussion when it comes to planning for the health impacts of the four hazards they address. Within IH, they will be incorporated into larger climate change adaptation planning activities that will ensure services continue to protect the health of the population well into the future.
The maps will also be used to deepen collaboration with Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities as we work towards the common goal of supporting healthy communities as our climate changes.
The maps also offer a resource for those involved in decision making around the built environment, policy development, and program delivery. The findings represented in the maps could support efforts to improve community amenities, address gaps in service provision, increase the quality of housing and infrastructure, and progress other resilience-building endeavours.
Environment and Climate Change Canada defines an extreme heat event:
Southern Interior of B.C.
Two or more consecutive days with temperatures higher or equal to 35 degrees celsius, with minimum overnight temperatures higher or equal to 18 degrees celsius.
Northern or Central Interior of B.C.
Two or more consecutive days with temperatures higher or equal to 29 degrees celsius, with minimum overnight temperatures greater than or equal to 13 degrees celsius.
High temperatures is more of a risk to:
- Older adults
- People with chronic poor health, heart problems or breathing difficulties
- People on certain medications
- People who live alone or are socially isolated
- Homeless, or unsheltered
- Less abled
- Infants and children
- People who are physically active outdoors or work outdoors
- People wearing PPE
- People with low income
- People who perform manual labour
Exposure to extreme cold can lead to injury or death. Risk is especially high for people who are very young, very old, drinking alcohol or not warmly dressed for the weather. You are more likely to feel cold easily if you:
- Do not have much body fat
- Drink caffeine or smoke cigarettes – caffeine and nicotine cause blood vessels to narrow and restrict blood flow
- Are under a lot of stress or feel tired - chronic stress or anxiety can cause your nervous system to release adrenaline, which acts to narrow the blood vessels that supply blood to the hands and feet
- Have certain medical conditions that make you react more strongly to cold or feel colder
Wildfires can occur during heat season due to lack of rain and hot temperatures that dry up vegetation. This can lead to smoke pollution which can irritate the lungs, cause inflammation, and alter immune function. Wildfire smoke can also lead to worsening of hear and lung disease.
Wildfire is more of a risk to:
- Those with underlying health conditions
- Older adults
- Those with respiratory conditions
- Those with chronic illness
It is important to prepare for wildfire smoke to reduce smoke exposure in the home.
Ways to prepare include:
- Portable air cleaners
- Air conditioners
- Limit outside time if there is smoke
- Learn more from Health Canada
Floods, drought and landslides are becoming common events due to our changing climate. There are many health hazards linked to these events:
- Injuries from falling trees, electrical hazards, unsafe structures and flying debris
- Increased rates of asthma attacks and allergies, especially within children and people with pre-existing conditions caused by the mold growth following storms and flooding
- Flood and drought conditions can both allow bacteria into food and water used to grow the food. The bacteria can cause food-borne illness. Bacteria in food can cause problems with your digestive system such as diarrhea, cramps and nausea. Most food-borne illnesses attack the body quickly and don’t last very long (e.g., food poisoning). The most common food-borne illnesses are Campylobacteriosis (Campylobacter bacteria) and Salmonellosis (Salmonella bacteria)
Climate related resources
Receive alerts, news and stories@IH right to your inbox!