Police in Metro Vancouver says there were dozens of reports of sudden deaths in just a few days in three major cities. The heatwave is expected to be a factor in many of them.
Police in Vancouver has seen the highest number of calls. In a news release yesterday, a police department spokesperson said the city has seen 65 sudden deaths since the heatwave began on Friday.
“Today alone, officers had responded to 20 sudden deaths as of 1:45 p.m. with more than a dozen others waiting for police to be dispatched,” Sgt. Steve Addison said.
“The vast majority of these cases are related to the heat. We’ve never seen anything like this, and it breaks our heart.”
Similarly, RCMP in Burnaby, B.C., said earlier Tuesday its officers received 25 calls for deaths since Monday alone. Official causes of death have yet to be determined. But, a statement said officers believe the majority are linked to the severe weather.
Many of those who died were seniors. The elderly, children, outdoor workers, homeless people and those with pre-existing medical conditions are all at greater risk of heat-related illness and death.
“We are seeing this weather can be deadly for vulnerable members of our community, especially the elderly and those with underlying health issues. We must check on one another during this extreme heat,” Cpl. Mike Kalanj said in a statement.
The ‘Heat Dome’
The “heat dome” responsible for record-breaking temperatures in B.C. has gripped the province since Friday. Temperatures were the most severe on Sunday and Monday, shattering more than 100 temperature records across B.C.
The heat is especially dangerous because it has remained warm through the night, offering no relief or recovery time. Many homes in B.C. do not have air conditioning as summer temperatures are typically far milder.
Extreme heat warnings remain in place over much of Western Canada as the heatwave moves eastward toward Alberta and the Northwest Territories.
Environment Canada has warned more records will be broken in B.C.’s Interior on Tuesday. The village of Lytton registered the highest temperature ever recorded in Canada, 47.9 C, on Monday.
B.C.’s South Coast is expected to see some relief Tuesday as marine air flows in from the Juan de Fuca Strait and temperatures drop by a few degrees. But they remain close to 10 C above normal temperatures for late June.
Meteorologists watching extreme weather events have linked it to climate change and a warming planet.
How To Stay Cool In Extreme Heat
Although the high temperatures are something out of your control, there are certain measures and precautions you can take to avoid a heat stroke ad stay cool.
- Drink a lot of water, even before you feel thirsty. Staying hydrated is important
- Avoid sunburn and wear sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher on exposed skin and SPF 30 lip balm. Remember to reapply every 2-3 hours to ensure the best protection
- Avoid strenuous activity and exercise
- Wear lightweight, light-coloured, loose-fitting, and a wide-brimmed hat, or use an umbrella for shade