Canadian Underwriter

Total number of deaths from B.C.’s summer heat dome nudges nearly 600: coroner

November 1, 2021   by The Canadian Press

Leanne Opuyes uses a spray bottle to mist her face

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VICTORIA – The BC Coroners Service has released updated numbers showing 595 people died in the province during extreme heat events over the summer.

That’s an increase from the 569 deaths confirmed by the coroners service at the end of July.

A statement from the coroner and the Ministry of Public Safety says all the deaths are being investigated and reports on each fatality should be complete by early 2022.

Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe says by identifying patterns and factors in each of the deaths, the province will be “in a better position to prevent future similar tragedies.”

The release says 526 of the deaths occurred between June 25 and July 1, when a heat dome caused record-breaking temperatures over most of the province, including the all-time highest temperature in Canada.

The coroner says 131 people died on June 28, while there 231 deaths on June 29, the same day the mercury reached the Canadian high of 49.6 C in Lytton, the day before a wildfire destroyed that village.

Lapointe expects the findings of the death review will increase public safety, but she says everyone must begin to prepare for future extreme weather events.

“Having a plan to regularly check in with loved ones who live alone, being aware of cooler and air-conditioned areas in your neighbourhood, and heeding early warnings about extreme weather are simple steps that will help ensure we are all properly prepared and safe,” Lapointe says in the statement.


Feature image: Leanne Opuyes uses a spray bottle to mist her face while cooling off in the frigid Lynn Creek water in North Vancouver, B.C., on Monday, June 28, 2021. Environment Canada warns the torrid heat wave that has settled over much of Western Canada won’t lift for days, although parts of British Columbia and Yukon could see some relief sooner. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck