Canada: Heatwave linked to sudden deaths as new temperature records set

30 June 2021, 08:16 | Updated: 30 June 2021, 09:28

People cool off in the frigid water of Lynn Creek in North Vancouver
People cool off in the frigid water of Lynn Creek in North Vancouver. Picture: PA

By Daisy Stephens

A sweltering heatwave that has settled over western Canada for several days is believed to be a contributing factor in dozens of sudden-death calls received by police in the Vancouver area, authorities have said.

Vancouver’s police department has responded to more than 65 sudden deaths since the heat wave began on Friday, causing them to redeploy dozens of officers and plead with the public to only call 911 in emergencies as heat-related emergencies deplete frontline resources and delay response times.

"Vancouver has never experienced heat like this, and sadly dozens of people are dying because of it," said Sgt Steve Addison.

"Our officers are stretched thin, but we're still doing everything we can to keep people safe."

He said that on a typical day Vancouver police respond to between three and four sudden-death calls, and that the “vast majority of these [extra] cases are related to the heat.”

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Temperatures in the Vancouver area reached just under 32C (90F) on Monday, but the humidity made it feel close to 40C (104F) in areas that are not near water, Environment Canada said.

The record-breaking heatwave could ease over parts of British Columbia, Yukon and the Northwest Territories by Wednesday, but any reprieve for the Prairie provinces is further off.

Ingrid Jarrett, CEO of the British Columbia Hotel Association, said residents in parts of the Lower Mainland, Victoria and the Okanagan region have been booking air-conditioned rooms so they can continue working and also get some sleep.

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Environment Canada said the weather system shattered 103 heat records across British Columbia, Alberta, Yukon and the Northwest Territories on Monday.

Those records include a new Canadian high temperature of 47.9C (118F) set in Lytton, British Columbia, smashing the previous record of 46.6C (116F) set in the same village a day earlier.