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Workers, volunteers care of most vulnerable in Maritimes 'heat dome'

People cool off on the stairs of the Queen's Marque in Halifax. (Jonathan Macinnis/CTV Atlantic) People cool off on the stairs of the Queen's Marque in Halifax. (Jonathan Macinnis/CTV Atlantic)
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With record temperatures for June hitting many parts of the Maritimes, some people have turned their attention to protecting the most vulnerable from the heat and humidity.

Staff at MacGillivray Guest Home in Sydney, N.S., have been taking precautions for the comfort and safety of residents, many of whom are in their eighties and nineties.

"It's not bad,” said Pauline Wadden, one of the residents at the nursing home who was outside enjoying games and conversation Thursday morning underneath a shaded tarp. Temperatures in the Sydney area had already hit roughly 28 C by 10 a.m.

"We do offer hydration carts around the clock,” said staff member Kim Hooper, who noted residents were strategically placed in a spot with a cooling breeze coming from Sydney Harbour. “Staff are constantly monitoring the residents to make sure they're not overheating. In the night time, they're making sure the building is cool as well."

Volunteers at the new Souls Harbour Rescue Mission location in Sydney Mines stocked up on bottled water and plenty of it.

"We have a lot of clients and guests that we're serving who are very vulnerable,” said drop-in center manager Alana MacLellan. “Seniors who are living alone, and people who are living outdoors."

With little relief from the elements for those who are homeless, staff at Souls Harbour have been asking the public to drop off bottled water to make sure they don't run out.

"We've been getting cases of water from community members,” MacLellan said. “We're so grateful for those, we're giving them out as soon as people come in, and we've also put together ice packs."

MacLellan is also a registered nurse, and offered some advice on what signs to look out for when checking in on someone in this kind of heat.

"Lethargy - low energy”, MacLellan said. “Dehydration - we can look at our urine output to see the colour of it, and headaches. Headaches are one of the earliest signs of dehydration.

MacLellan noted Souls Harbour locations in the Halifax area were also happy to accept donations of bottled water, along with sunscreen, sunglasses and umbrellas for shading.

Temperatures were expected to return closer to more seasonal values on Friday.

Click here for photos of the high temperatures.

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