The Salvation Army, Lighthouse offering cool down spaces during extreme heat wave in Saskatoon

A heat warning is in effect for the City of Saskatoon and surrounding areas, with temperatures soaring to the 30s Wednesday and Thursday.

While many people have been looking forward to the heat, just like the cold, it can be extremely dangerous.

“Folks need a place to cool down. Sometimes we take that for granted. We can go in our homes or in our office or in our car, whereas if you don’t have any place to go, then that becomes a problem,” said Maj. Judy Regamey with the Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army is one of several cool down locations in the city.

People can come inside, sit down, enjoy some air conditioning and have a bottle of water.

“When it’s really hot, then folks know that this is a place that they can cool down. So, we will expect to see a significant amount of people come through the next couple of days,” Regamey said.

The Lighthouse Supported Living is another place to get out of the heat.

Ashley Peters, frontline manager at the Lighthouse, said staff are giving out water bottles but COVID-19 restrictions and spacing requirements are limiting the services they can provide.

“There’s only so much we can do, especially at shelters running at half capacity, it makes it even harder to accommodate people who need that help. And then it’s hard when all our beds are full and we have to turn someone away and trying to find other resources and the only other resources are full as well,” Peters told CTV News.

The City’s Emergency Management Organization (EMO) has shared a list of cool down locations in the city as part of its heat response, including the Salvation Army and the Lighthouse, which are open 24/7.

Organizations like OUTSaskatoon, Prairie Harm Reduction and the Friendship Inn are also open to people during the day, Monday to Friday.

There is also free access to the City’s spray parks and paddling pools.

⚠️A Hot Weather Alert has been activated in #yxe. Please share and take note of the various cool down locations across the city. Stay safe and cool during this heat! ��️

— Saskatoon Emergency Management (EMO) (@SaskatoonEMO) June 2, 2021

Pamela Goulden-McLeod, director of EMO, said more cool down locations could be added as COVID-19 restrictions are loosened over the next few months.

“What we realize is individuals who are experiencing homelessness, whether they’re a family or an individual, really need some options during this extreme heat,” she said.

“We’ll continue with this strategy and of course adjust based on the COVID public health orders and what’s going on with those. So, that might impact our ability to open up and have more people involved in those cool down locations as well as partners like the Saskatoon Public Library.”

According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, a ridge of high pressure is making its way over Saskatchewan and other parts of Prairies, bringing temperatures as high as 36 C on Thursday in Saskatoon.

“We know our temperatures can go from plus 40 to minus 40, so to be able to live here, your body has to adjust and I think because it’s a little early in the season and it just snowed a couple weeks ago, I don’t think our bodies have acclimatized to it quite yet,” said Terri Lang, a meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada.

That’s why Lang said it’s important for people to not overdo it in the heat, to get stuff done in the morning or evening when temperatures aren’t at their peak, wear sunscreen and stay hydrated.

She said temperatures are expected to cool down to about 30 C on Friday, then into the 20s over the weekend.