Last summer’s heat wave claimed 22 lives in Chilliwack, according to data from the BC Coroners Service (BCCS).
There were 595 deaths BC wide between June 18 and Aug. 12, 2021, the vast majority during the ‘heat dome’ period of June 25 to July 1.
According to the BCCS report, Chilliwack’s 22 deaths were sixth highest among all BC townships, trailing Langley (23), New Westminster (28), Burnaby (63), Surrey (67) and Vancouver (99). Abbotsford was close behind Chilliwack with 20 heat-related fatalities.
The Fraser East health region — which includes Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Hope, Mission and Agassiz/Harrison — had the second highest rate of death per 100,000 people at 15.1, trailing only Fraser North at 17.4.
Most deaths occurred in a ‘residential’ setting such as a home, hotel/motel, shelter, seniors’ home, long-term care home, etc. Of the 526 deaths charted province-wide during the ‘heat done’ period, only eight were identified as happening outside.
BCCS defined ‘heat related death’ as a scenario where:
• The localized environment or body temperature is keeping with hyperthermia; or
• There is no direct temperature at the time of death but there is evidence (circumstantial, scene
environment, medical history) to support that heat played a significant causal effect on the death
The BC Coroners Service said that it expects to complete individual investigations into each of the 595 deaths by early 2022, at which time a death review panel will release recommendations on how to prevent future heat-related fatalities.
“The BC Coroners Service is committed to gathering as much information as possible about each of these deaths to inform future, evidence-based prevention efforts” said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner. “I extend my sincere condolences to all of those who lost a loved one as a result of last summer’s unprecedented heat dome. By identifying patterns and factors in the tragic deaths that occurred unexpectedly last summer, our province will be in a better position to prevent future similar tragedies.”
With files from Katya Slepian