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‘An unprecedented number’: Nearly 100 deaths on Vancouver Island through heat wave

Almost a hundred people died on Vancouver Island during last week’s heat wave, more than doubling the usual average.

From June 25th through July 1st, 2021, 97 deaths were reported to coroners in the Vancouver Island Health Authority. The historical average for the Island through that seven-day period, from 2016 to 2020, was around 41.

Meanwhile, the Vancouver Coastal Health Region – which includes Powell River – saw 193 deaths.

As of last Friday, total deaths climbed to 719 province-wide, chief coroner Lisa LaPointe noted. She says the ‘unprecedented’ number was three times more than what B.C. would normally see through that time period.

But that number was preliminary and would likely change, as more reported deaths were entered into the service’s systems. An updated chart now shows a total 777 deaths across B.C., from June 25th to July 1st.

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LaPointe said many of the deaths were among seniors living alone in private residences with minimal ventilation, noting the extreme weather B.C. experienced in late June played a ‘significant’ factor. With this in mind, she said it’s important people take extra care to avoid the dangerous effects of severe heat. The Province is offering tips to stay cool, found here.

“On behalf of the BC Coroners Service, I extend my sincere condolences to all of those who have lost a loved one during this challenging period,” LaPointe added.

“The coroners service will carefully investigate the circumstances of each death to determine the role extreme heat may have played and will use the findings of these investigations to help prevent future deaths in similar circumstances.”

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