Robert Wood and Barb Faulkner have a lot of fans in North Shore seniors homes.
The Lynn Valley couple has just finished raising thousands of dollars to purchase electric fans for cooling hundreds of seniors in care who are suffering through this summer's record-breaking heat waves.
After the June heat dome, which the B.C. government estimates led to the deaths of 569 people in the province, mostly seniors, Wood and Faulkner were appalled to find the vast majority of long-term care facilities on the North Shore have no cooling systems, and that none of them they were aware of provided portable cooling fans to their residents. The only folks in care with fans were ones whose families purchased them on their own.
“We had read the stats that everyone else has read,” Wood said.
With equal parts compassion and frustration, the couple bought a dozen fans and delivered them to Cederview Lodge, in their own neighbourhood.
“Everyone was so appreciative, I thought, well, let's just keep this going,” he said.
They then went through their contact lists and solicited donations from friends. They persuaded managers of major businesses like Canadian Tire, London Drugs, Home Depot and Royal Bank to contribute to the campaign, either by selling fans at a discounted rate or by putting up funds.
“I felt, walking out of all these places, pretty good that people felt that this is a community problem and let's try to, as a team, get it sorted,” he said.
Next on the list was Lynn Valley Care Centre, where they delivered about 100 fans. They also dropped off two carloads to Kiwanis Lynn Manor. With roughly $3,000 in donations, they were able to provide 250 fans to vulnerable seniors.
“Apparently they flew off the walls. Everyone is jubilant. We've got so many really, really happy people,” he said. “I just can't believe that nobody's thought of this before. These things are desperately needed.”
With another heat wave upon us, fans are now again largely sold out at local stores. Others may be inspired to donate badly needed fans to seniors, Wood and Faulkner said, especially when more heat waves are assured. But the couple added it should absolutely be the responsibility of the operators of the care homes, whether they are government run or private, to make sure residents have access to potentially life-saving cooling equipment.
“Why haven't they done anything about this?” Wood asked.
Wood said he has raised the issue with his MLA.
Environment Canada has issued a heat warning for Thursday through Sunday this week. Daytime highs are expected to reach between 29°C and 35°C, while nighttime lows are expected to remain between 16 and 19 degrees.