Edmontonians look to cool off — or enjoy the sunshine — as heatwave rolls in

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Edmontonians were looking for ways to keep cool, or embracing the first truly hot days of summer, as extreme temperatures arrived in the city on Tuesday.

The city was poised to meet or exceed record temperatures for a second day on Tuesday. Edmonton reached 34 degrees Celcius by 5 p.m. at the Edmonton Blatchford station, up from a daily record-breaking 32.6 C set on Monday. The record for July 9 was set at 34.1 C in 2015.

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Environment Canada has issued a heat warning for much of Alberta. Local temperatures are expected to peak Thursday with lingering heat through most of next week.

The arrival of this scorching heat wasn’t something Michelle Riopel looked forward to.

“I don’t deal with heat very well. I get whiny and cranky and lethargic.”

“I do have an AC unit, but it doesn’t work very well. My place is like an oven,” she said laughing.

Riopel spoke to Postmedia outside Kind Ice Cream on 102 Avenue just before noon on Tuesday.

She wrote a list of ways to cool off and posted it on her fridge for when the heat gets to be too much — soak a bandana in water, put her feet in cold water, turn on the fan, to name a few.

“I’m miserable in the heat, so I kind of go overboard.”

Going to aquafit at the Wîhkwêntôwin (formerly Oliver) outdoor pool was her solution Tuesday morning, followed by ice cream on her way to work.

Grace Streuth, Alex Forest, and Sam Kulathilaka had a similar idea.

The three coworkers stopped at the same ice cream shop around noon during their lunch break. A scoop of peanut butter and Oreo, a half scoop each of cold brew and “hokey pokey”, and a half scoop each of salted almond fudge and key lime pie ice cream were their choices.

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“You know, we work pretty hard. So we thought we deserve a treat,” Streuth said. “We came on down to get some ice cream and I feel like this is a good choice.”

It’s one of the best ways of cooling off, Streuth said. But mainly Streuth plans to stay indoors when the heat gets to be too much.

“I’ll be spending a lot of time in my basement,” she said.

Forest has the Borden Park pool in mind for some after-work recreation. Kulathilaka will be keeping a fan close at home with a glass of iced water in hand.

Buying a fan is Gurpreet Kaur’s plan to stay cool. She went to Kingsway Mall on Tuesday to buy one.

It’s her first summer in Edmonton. The heat in her apartment surprised her. She moved to the city a few months ago from India via Vancouver.

Walking out of Walmart she carried a medium-sized fan in a box under her arm, the only thing on her shopping list that morning.

“Not for groceries, not at all. Just for the fan,” she said, laughing. “It’s too hot. Yesterday I was not able to sleep because of the heat, that’s why I came here.”

“It’s better than India, but still it’s hot.”

Three women sit on a bench outside Kind Ice Cream on 102 Avenue in Edmonton
Grace Streuth, left, Alex Forest and Sam Kulathilaka enjoy scoops of different flavours at Kind Ice Cream on 102 Avenue as a heat wave rolls into Edmonton. Much of Alberta, including Edmonton, was under a heat warning on Tuesday, July 9, 2024. Lauren Boothby/Postmedia edm

Soaking up the sun

A block away from the ice cream shop, other Edmontonians were embracing the heat and basking in the sunshine at Paul Kane Park.

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While about half the park-goers were seated under shady trees around the water, several others donned swimsuits or removed their shirts to soak up some rays.

Brian Ryzek was lying on a small grassy hill, shirtless. With frigid temperatures in Edmonton for so many months of the year, he decided to stop by the park to enjoy the heat on his lunch break.

“After the crappy spring we had, when summer didn’t start until last week, it’s kind of nice to actually have some warmth,” he said. “Take advantage of it while we can, because we get three months of decent summer, and that’s it.

“I’ve got to get these pasty-white appendages coloured somehow.”

A few metres away Domeca McKinley was sprawled out, relaxing on a blanket in her swimsuit. She brought some fruit to snack on and two bottles of water to stay hydrated. For her, the warm weather was just what she needed.

“It’s a beautiful day, I’m ready for summer to start,” she said. “I feel like with the year that I’ve personally had, I’m like OK — need some vitamin D, need a reset, need a little self-picnic self-care day. Paul Kane Park — it’s realy nice, there’s a lot to look at, so I came here to enjoy the weather while we have it.”

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It was around 32 C at the time — not too hot for her just yet.

“We’ll see how long the Irish in me will hold out, but there’s always Made By Marcus (ice cream), lots of shady places to go if I need, and I have two bottles of water and fruit to go.”

Paul Kane Park in Edmonton
Edmontonians lounge in the shade, or in the sun, at Paul Kane Park on Tues. July 9, 2024.. The city was under a heat warning with extreme temperatures expected through the week. edm

Don’t leave your pet or child in the car

For Edmontonians heading out during the heat, firefighters are asking the public to remember not to leave children and pets inside vehicles.

Edmonton Fire Rescue Services (EFRS) has responded to 21 pets locked in vehicles and four other events involving children and adults. In July 2023, there were 32 pets locked in vehicles and 31 events involving people.

Breaking windows to free those locked in vehicles is rare — it only happens if there are immediate signs of distress or danger, EFRS told Postmedia in a statement. Otherwise, they radio the dispatch centre to request assistance and AMA can open the vehicle.

“We would like to take this opportunity to urge all Edmontonians to reconsider travel plans if there is a possibility that you may have to leave your child or pet unattended in a vehicle, even for a moment,” the statement said.

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The City of Edmonton has activated its extreme weather response. There are various water stations available across Edmonton listed on the city’s website, and recreation centres, libraries and pools can be accessed to keep cool.

– With files from Cindy Tran

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