Since Friday, police have had to respond to more than 130 sudden deaths most of which were elderly people or people with underlying conditions, with the heat acting as a catalyst.
For the third consecutive day, Canada broke its temperature record (49.6C or 121.3F) in Lytton, British Columbia.
Experts, even though they say that climate change is expected to increase the frequency of extreme weather events such as heatwaves, said that linking a single event to global warming is complicated.
According to experts, due to a dome of static high-pressure hot air stretching from California to the Artic territories, extreme heat is formed over western parts of the US and Canada. Temperatures are starting to decrease on coastal areas but no immediate respite for the inland regions.
Before Sunday, the temperature never exceeded 45C in Canada. John Horgan, British Columbia Premier, said that the hottest week has proved to be disastrous for families and communities.
Due to some areas, although they have responded to the sudden death’s incidents, having not collected all the numbers of deaths, the number of heat-related fatalities is expected to rise. In Vancouver alone, the unexpected deaths of 65 people is believed to have been contributed by the heat.
Police sergeant Steve Addison stated: “ I’ve been a police officer for 15 years and I’ve never experienced the volume of sudden deaths that have come in such short period of time. Three or four is the normal number. People were arriving at relative’s home and ‘finding them deceased’.”
Redeployment of dozens of police officers in the city since the increased volume of emergency calls created a backlog and decreased resources available for the police.
According to British Columbia Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe, more than 100 deaths compared to normal were recorded in the period from Friday to Monday.
The tiny village of Lytton, about 155 miles (250km) east of Vancouver, has the most recorded deaths of all Canada. Resident Meghan Fandrich said that it has been ‘almost impossible’ to go outside.
According to an interview she gave to Globe and Mail newspaper, “We’re trying to stay indoors as much as possible. We’re used to the heat, and it’s a dry heat, but 30 [degrees] is a lot different from 47.”
Many homes in British Columbia do not have an air conditioning system since temperatures in summer used to be milder. Vancouver has now set up temporary water fountains and cooling centres in its area.
British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories and Manitoba have been issued heat warnings by the country’s weather system, Environment Canada.