Ottawa health details new interactive map, plan for wildfire smoke ahead of summer

By CityNews Ottawa Staff

Ottawa residents will have access to an interactive map of places to cool down during the warmer months this year.

The Ottawa Public Health (OPH) map is one of the new tools being added to the City of Ottawa’s Extreme Heat, Cold and Smog (EHCS) Plan for 2024.

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) issues a heat warning when there is a forecast of two or more consecutive days with daytime maximum temperatures of 31 C or warmer, together with nighttime minimum temperatures of 20 C or warmer.

A warning is also issued when there is a forecast of two or more consecutive days with humidex values expected to reach 40 C or higher.

The city says its EHCS Plan was developed to outline the actions taken to prepare for, to mitigate, and respond to these events.

What happens when a heat warning is issued?

OPH will share heat warnings on social media and will explain how people can prevent heat-related illnesses. 

The health unit says it “encourages” people to download the WeatherCAN app and visit its extreme heat and humidity page, where people can find information on power outages and helpful tips.

Other city departments could also relay information to the public.  

Cool spaces for residents

The OPH interactive map will show places to cool off in the nation’s capital. It’ll include information for pools, splash pads, parks, libraries and community buildings.

During heat warnings, members of the public can find air conditioning at any city facility during regular hours.

Emergency cooling centres will open only if the city deems them necessary, such as a prolonger heat emergency.

Ottawa Community Housing and some low-income housing managers provide cooling rooms for people during heat emergencies. 

Wildfire smoke event

As seen during the summer of 2023, the nation’s capital could experience a wildfire smoke event which poses risks for people.

The memo reads that Ottawa is “almost always” an ideal place for people to do outdoor activities, but low air quality is possible during the summer.

ECCC, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks is responsible for monitoring air quality for the province. 

The departments publish various air quality markets and statements to help people decide on if it’s safe to go outside.

OPH said it monitors the alerts and recommends people plan accordingly. 

During smoke events, OPH uses social media to share tips on outdoor air pollution, including wildfire smoke and how to reduce exposure.  

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