Column: Climate change and your health

The global climate is changing. On average the temperature of the earth is rising causing more extreme weather events such as the droughts, fires and floods much of our region has experienced this year. These changes affect natural and human environments (air quality, clean water and food sources) and also can have negative effects on our health.

The impacts on health from climate change are varied and will depend on where you live, Impacts on health can include respiratory diseases, heart disease, heat-related illnesses, mental illness, malnutrition, infections and other illnesses. There are a number of things you can do to protect your health from the climate change related issues in your area.

Air quality: Check the Air Quality Health Index for your area. If it is poor, limit your outdoor activity and follow the other guidelines provided.

Sun, heat and extreme temperatures: Stay covered, use sunscreen, stay hydrated, and watch for signs of heat-related illness during extreme heat events. Never leave children or pets unattended in the car.

Food and water safety: Be aware of food recalls and boil water advisories in your area. This is important not just for drinking, but also food preparation, tooth brushing, etc. Report suspected food and water-borne illnesses to your local Health Protection office.

Insects and disease: Learn more about disease-carrying insect threats in your area (e.g. Lyme disease, West Nile virus) and take precautions if you may be interacting with potential carriers of infectious diseases.

Fires, Floods and other emergencies: In preparation for environmental emergencies, put together an emergency kit and evacuation plan. See Government of Canada’s Get Prepared Website for tips.

Fortunately, everyone can help to limit the negative effects from climate change by reducing your carbon footprint or personal and workplace greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Here are a few things that can make a big difference:

• Consider greening your commute: try walking, cycling, carpooling or taking transit – it doesn’t have to be every day – using alternate transportation even once in a while can make a difference.

• Reduce your energy use: switch off your computer, lights and other electronics when not in use.

• Waste less – want less: reduce what you use, re-use items and re-cycle.

• Go local: whenever possible buy local foods and local goods.

When you reduce your personal GHG emissions you’ll be helping to improve air and water quality in the short term. Over the long term, you’ll be helping to secure our water and food resources, reduce weather and temperature extremes, and help curb the spread of disease carrying insects. All of which will improve our health.

To learn more about what Interior Health is doing and what you can do to lessen the impacts of climate change on your health visit our Climate Change webpage.

-The author, Mike Adams, is a team leader with Interior Health’s healthy communities team

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dozens of fish die at popular lake near Chase

A few natural phenomena are possible causes for their deaths.

Transport truck driver ticketed after rear-ending semi, closing Highway 1 in Shuswap

Truck catches fire, Chase RCMP ticket man for following too closely

Automated phone scam targets Shuswap residents

Scammers may be spoofing a local number and claiming they are with the CRA

Okanagan and Shuswap MPs want federal funds to help stop invasive species

Concerns raised that spending favours Eastern Canada.

COVID-19: Homeless to be relocated from temporary Okanagan shelter

Homeless shelters in Vernon have been combined into one site at the curling rink since April

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

‘Made in the Cowichan Valley’ coming to a wine bottle near you

Cowichan Valley has the honour of being the first sub-GI outside of the Okanagan

Most Read