The British Columbia government is encouraging people to take precautions as Environment Canada forecasts the return of unseasonably hot temperatures.

A statement from the Ministry of Health urges people to follow guidelines for staying cool during "extreme heat" that is predicted to last from Wednesday to Saturday.

Health Minister Adrian Dix says health authorities and BC Emergency Health Services are preparing to assist people in need during the latest heat wave.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says it's important to stay hydrated and pay attention to people who are most vulnerable, particularly infants, children and older people.

She says the hot temperatures are complicated by wildfire smoke that's prompted air quality advisories in parts of the southern Interior.

Heat in the mid- to high-30s is expected with the highest temperatures slated for Thompson-Okanagan, the southern Kootenays and Fraser Canyon — all areas where numerous wildfires continue to burn and have caused evacuation orders.

"When the smoke is heavy, it actually dissipates the heat a little bit, and so it is important for you to keep windows closed, keep inside, try and stay away from the smoky skies as well," Henry said during a briefing on B.C.'s wildfire situation.

Environment Canada has issued heat warnings for parts of southern Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, while special weather statements cover most of southern B.C. and Vancouver Island. Those could be upgraded to warnings as conditions peak between Wednesday and the weekend, the weather agency said.

Temperatures in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and parts of Vancouver Island are expected to reach the mid- to high-20s near the coast and into the 30s inland.

Unseasonable heat returns to #BritishColumbia and the #Prairies. #BC #HeatWave #BCPoli

Forecasters say conditions will not be as hot as late June, when temperature records were shattered across Western Canada and B.C.'s coroner determined the sweltering conditions caused hundreds of deaths, mostly among older people.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 27, 2021.

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