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B.C. government warns of another round of 'extreme heat'

Sudden death toll during historic heat wave climbs to 815; Environment Canada warns that another, though less powerful, heat wave will hit southern B.C. this week.
Heat wave (Getty)
Another heat wave is expected to hit B.C. this week, though temperatures are not expected to be as extreme as the heat dome that covered the region in late June.

The B.C. government is warning residents of another heat wave expected to affect the southern half of the province over the coming days. 

Environment Canada has issued 20 special weather statements as a strengthening ridge of high pressure is expected to drive temperatures above 30 C across inland areas of Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island.

“British Columbians should be vigilant, watch for warnings and take steps to stay safe during extreme heat,” said Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth in a written statement. 

In several regions of B.C.’s southern Interior, the unseasonable temperatures could bring daytime highs into the high 30s.

The hottest weather is expected to hit the region from Thursday, July 28, to Saturday, July 31, with nighttime temperatures offering little relief. 

Such conditions can quickly turn deadly.

The BC Coroners Service now says that 815 sudden deaths have been reported during a record-breaking heat wave in late June. That’s 617 more sudden deaths across British Columbia when compared to the five-year average over the same seven-day period, according to updated preliminary data.

None of the deaths have been confirmed as heat-related and investigators are still working to establish how and why so many more people died.

In a press release, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health warned Tuesday that in temperatures above 30 C, “fans alone may not be able to prevent heat-related illness.”

The ministry recommends you limit outdoor work or exercise between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., if possible, and drink two to four glasses of non-alcoholic fluids per hour.

Older adults, children, those with pre-existing conditions and anyone who can’t leave their home should be checked on regularly to ensure they are drinking enough fluids and can access a cold shower.  

Heat illness can begin with dizziness and headaches and can quickly progress into a life-threatening situation.

“Even young people die in the heat: football players, long-distance runners,” says the BC Centre for Disease Control’s medical director of environmental health Dr. Tom Kosatsky.

What does too much heat do to the human body? In a word: hyperthermia.

The province urges residents to monitor for signs of heat exhaustion, call 911 if symptoms escalate quickly and provide emergency first aid to those in need.