Police in Metro Vancouver say they have responded to more than 100 sudden deaths since a severe heat wave hit the county, and the risk is expected to continue in the face of sweltering heat still in the forecast for the next several days.
By Tuesday afternoon, Vancouver police said they had called for more than 65 sudden deaths since the temperature began to rise Friday. Twenty of those deaths were reported on Tuesday just before 1:45 p.m. PT — on a typical day with only three or four sudden deaths in the city.
A police spokesman, Sgt. Steve Addison said in a press release.
“Our officers are exhausted, but we are still doing everything we can to keep people safe.”
He said officers are being redeployed from the investigation division of the police department to respond to the crisis, and other officers are being called from the house.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Burnaby said earlier on Tuesday that its officers had received 25 homicide calls since Monday alone. Official causes of death have yet to be determined, but a statement said officers believe the majority are related to severe weather.
“Heat is thought to be a contributing factor to the majority of deaths. Many of the deceased were elderly,” corporal. Mike Callang wrote in a statement from Burnaby.
“We are of the opinion that this weather can be deadly for the vulnerable members of our community, especially the elderly and those with underlying health issues. It is essential that we check in on each other during this extreme heat.”
The RCMP in nearby Surrey saw a similar story. She said her officers responded to 20 deaths on Monday and 18 by mid-morning on Tuesday. Usually, the breakup says he only receives five calls of this type per day.
Watch | Prime Minister John Horgan said the heat wave in British Columbia was unprecedented:
233 deaths in a period of 4 days
British Columbia’s Coroners service says there has been a significant increase in deaths since Friday, with intense heat suspected to have played a fatal role.
Normally, 130 deaths were reported in British Columbia over a four-day period. However, between Friday and Monday, there were 233 deaths reported in the county.
“I offer my deepest condolences to those who have lost loved ones during this unprecedented time,” said Lisa Lapointe, BC’s chief forensic medicine officer.
“Forensic pathologists carefully collect all available information on each reported death, to determine the cause and mode of death, and whether excessive heat played a role.”
Police in Abbotsford and Victoria said they had received more calls than usual, but could not provide exact numbers.
The “thermal dome” responsible for record temperatures in British Columbia has been sweeping the province since Friday. The temperatures were the most intense on Sunday and Monday, smashing more than 100 temperature records across British Columbia
Heat is especially dangerous because it stays warm all night, offering no time for rest or recovery. Many homes in British Columbia do not have air conditioning because summer temperatures are usually much milder.
Warnings of extreme heat remain in place for much of western Canada as the heat wave moves east towards Alberta and the Northwest Territories.
Environment Canada warned that more records will be broken in British Columbia’s inland division on Tuesday. The village of Lytton recorded the highest temperature ever recorded in Canada, 47.9 degrees Celsius, on Monday.
British Columbia’s southern coast is expected to see some relief on Tuesday as sea air flows from the Juan de Fuca Strait and temperatures drop a few degrees. But it remains close to 10°C above normal in late June.
Older adults, children, outdoor workers, the homeless, and people with pre-existing medical conditions are all at greater risk of heat-related illness and death.
Extreme temperatures led to a spike in 911 calls over the weekend, according to British Columbia Health Emergency Services. Ambulances responded to 187 heat exhaustion and 52 heat stroke calls between Friday and Monday.
The British Columbia Forensic Service said it could not provide any information on deaths linked to the heat wave because those investigations would remain in their early stages.
Meteorologists who monitor this extreme weather event have linked this to climate change and global warming.
Staying cool in extreme temperatures.
- Avoid direct sunlight as much as possible.
- Plan to spend some time in a cool or air-conditioned place, such as a library, mall, or even a movie theater if you can.
- Drink plenty of water, even before you feel thirsty.
- Avoid strenuous activity and exercise.
- Avoid sunburn and apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to exposed skin and a lip balm with SPF 30 or higher.
- Wear lightweight, light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing and a wide-brimmed hat, or use an umbrella for shade.