More than two dozen known deaths took place in the Tri-Cities during the peak of the region's heat wave, which may have likely contributed to the fatalities.
According to updated information provided to Tri-City News, Coquitlam RCMP says it received a total of 28 calls of sudden and unexpected deaths dating back to Friday (June 25) when the heat dome took full effect.
The breakdown is as follows:
- 16 = June 29
- Nine = June 28
- Two = June 27
- Zero = June 26
- One = June 25
"However, we cannot verify if these sudden deaths are heat-related as that would be a matter for the coroner’s office to determine," says spokesperson Nicola Collins.
Port Moody police told Tri-City News on Tuesday they did not receive any sudden-death calls during the same time span despite temperatures rising into the mid-40s with humidity.
Today (June 30), the BC Coroners Service recorded 486 sudden deaths during the heat wave, which is a 195% increase compared to the 165 that normally takes place in the province in a typical five-day period.
However, chief coroner Lisa Lapointe also says it's too early to determine if all of them were heat-related fatalities, but it's believed to be a contributing factor given the extreme weather.
“Coroners have been working around the clock alongside law enforcement, first responders and others ensuring we are able to respond to the needs of communities as expeditiously and efficiently as possible," she said in a statement.
"Due to the much-greater-than-usual number of reported deaths in some areas, there have been instances where there have been delays in coroners responding to scenes of reported death. We have reallocated resources and are continuing to do everything within our power to minimize wait times. I acknowledge and thank our law enforcement partners for their invaluable assistance throughout this period."
Lapointe adds the total number of sudden deaths is likely to be updated on Friday (July 2).
Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West took to social media to say more than 70 residents visited a cooling centre this week, saying they were primarily seniors who live without air conditioning.
"Responding to emergencies to keep people safe is one of the core responsibilities of any government," he said.
"It’s our workers who do that job — and it’s the job of elected officials to make sure they have the tools and resources they need to get it done."
Environment Canada still has a heat warning in effect for the Tri-Cities — Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Anmore and Belcarra — as a strong ridge of high pressure continues to make its way across B.C.
Between today and Saturday (July 3), the forecast is calling for daily highs of up to 35 C with humidity, while overnight lows may drop to just under 20 C.
The following tips are recommended:
- Drink plenty of water even before you feel thirsty and stay in a cool place
- Check on older family, friends and neighbours. Make sure they are cool and drinking water
- Never leave people or pets inside a parked vehicle
- Watch for the symptoms of heat illness
- Rapid breathing and heartbeat
- Extreme thirst
- Decreased urination with unusually dark urine