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Lethbridge outreach groups preparing for summer heat

Packets of sunscreen, lip balm and insect repellant collected for vulnerable people in Lethbridge during the summer. (CTV News) Packets of sunscreen, lip balm and insect repellant collected for vulnerable people in Lethbridge during the summer. (CTV News)
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LETHBRIDGE, ALTA. -

Hot temperatures are expected to arrive in southern Alberta this summer and that has outreach organizations busy preparing for the heat.

“You don't think about the cold until it's cold, you don't think about the warmth until it's warm so it's nice to be ahead of the game in having things before it happens rather than scrambling once it’s actually 35 degrees out,” said Cameron Kissick, chief operations officer of Streets Alive Mission.

Those preparations include collecting sunscreen, bug repellent, clothing, water and reusable water bottles.

“We’re getting to that time of the year where you're opening that draw and realizing you have 25 (water bottles) and you just bought two more from Costco because they were on sale,” Kissick said.

“We're happy to take those used water bottles in and reuse them so that we can cut down on waste and conserve the best we can.”

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) is forecasting a hotter and drier summer in the Lethbridge region.

Bill Ginther, the executive director of the Lethbridge Soup Kitchen, says the vulnerable population takes all their belongings with them when moving around, meaning they could be wearing multiple layers of clothing in the heat – which increases the risk for heat stroke.

“We like to make sure we have a cool place for them that we are understanding and they are overdressed for the weather and we do our best to keep them cool,” he said.

Ginther says with the warmer weather, many in the vulnerable community will be moving around more often and he’s asking people to be compassionate.

“We need to make sure we don't put blinders on when it comes to people being able to hang around a little longer in the shade,” Ginther said.

“If you see someone huddled up near the edge of a building or something just trying to cool, I think we need to be a little more receptive to them being able to do that and not just moving them on.”

Cooling centres will be made available by the city if temperatures reach a specific threshold this summer.

The Galt Gardens public drinking station, which now has water flowing, filled nearly 12,000 water bottles last summer.

With water drives underway at the Lethbridge Food Bank and Interfaith Food Bank, Kissick is looking at alternative options to conserve water this summer.

“We want to try and be as conservative as possible when it comes to water,” he added.

“We want to try and look at reusable sources, hence why we talk about reusable ice packs, things like that, that we can use to cool people down.”

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