The high death toll that the extreme temperatures across BC may have caused is forcing the BC Coroners Service to make some changes.
In the last 3-5 years, the BC Coroners Service said they’ve only had 3 reported deaths that were related to heat.
“The last five days in British Columbia have seen an unprecedented number of deaths reported to the BC Coroners Service. Between Friday and 1 p.m. today, at least 486 sudden and unexpected deaths have been reported to our agency. This number is preliminary and will increase as coroners enter death reports into our system. The 486 deaths currently entered represent a 195% increase over the approximately 165 deaths that would normally occur in the province over a five-day period,” said Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe.
“While it is too early to say with certainty how many of these deaths are heat-related, it is believed likely that the significant increase in deaths reported is attributable to the extreme weather B.C. has experienced and continues to impact many parts of our province,” she added.
The BC Coroners Service has been putting full-time coroners in the field and has put part-time coroners on call to help keep up with demand.
They are also looking at what they can do in the future to help prevent a problem like this from happening again.
“Many communities have opened cooling centres. Malls, libraries, and other air-conditioned community spaces can provide essential respite from the effects of severe heat,” said Lapointe.
People in Prince George have been asking for cooling centres in the city, to which Councilor Cori Ramsay and Councilor Terri McConnachie have responded on Twitter saying they’re looking into it.
@Lynhallpg @garthfrizzell @Terri_Mcconna @CorRams @SampsonKyle @SusanScottPG can you tell me and other curious inhabitants of this city why community centres and arenas are not being opened as cooling centres?
— The Joyce (@TheJoyce4) June 30, 2021
Arenas and community centres in PG were just cleared to open up on Monday (June 28).
Many deaths are still being investigated in BC, and Lapointe says an update on the numbers will come out Friday.