The scorching temperatures are raising concerns about the effects of climate change as police say the heat may have contributed to the “sudden” deaths.
Police in western Canada say the record temperatures may be linked to a number of “sudden” deaths, as sweltering temperatures prompted British Columbia to close schools, issue flood warnings from melting glaciers and urged people to stay indoors.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in Burnaby, east Vancouver, said it had responded to “more than 25 sudden death calls” in the 24 hours since Monday.
While the deaths are still under investigation, the police force said it believed the high temperatures were a “contributing factor” to most of them. She added that many of the dead were elderly.
“Check out your neighbours, check on family members, check out seniors you may know,” said Mike Callang, a spokesman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Burnaby.
“We see this weather as potentially deadly for vulnerable individuals in our community, especially the elderly and those with underlying health issues. It is essential that we check in with each other during this extreme heat.”
Social media posts with advice on keeping cool without air conditioning went viral on Monday, in a county where less than 40 percent of homes have air conditioning.
Lytton, a town in central British Columbia about 200 kilometers (124 miles) north of Vancouver, reported a temperature of 46.6 degrees Celsius (115.88 degrees Fahrenheit) on Sunday. Before the weekend, Canada’s historical highest high was 45C, which was set in Saskatchewan in 1937, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada.
Constant high heat is unusual in the Pacific Northwest, which is more accustomed to long bouts of rain than the sun, and is caused by a high pressure system that does not move, said Greg Flatow, a leading research scientist on environment and climate change. Canada based in Victoria.
“Temperatures get very high during the day, the temperature does not drop very much during the night and remains relatively constant, unlike the usual kind of weather events here on the West Coast… that come across the Pacific Ocean. [Ocean] Flato said.
“It brings us to the point that the climate is changing. Science has been telling us for a long time but to really indulge in it, because we’re here and we have to sleep downstairs to stay cool — it really drives this home.”
Other Canadians have also raised concerns about the effects of global warming on the country.
“Climate change is a public health emergency and we need to treat it as one,” British Columbia leader Sonia Furstenau said on Twitter. “British Columbia now faces the reality of extreme weather events or wildfires every summer.”
David Phillips, chief climate scientist at Environment Canada, told CTV News that climate change tends to make heat waves and other weather events more volatile and extreme, calling them “weather stimulants.”
BC broke a record for the most incoming 911 calls, with emergency operators receiving nearly 8,000 messages on Friday.
British Columbia authorities have issued a number of flood watch notices in response to the accelerated rates of snowmelt. Natural Resources Canada has warned of “extreme” bushfire risks.
“Temperatures are in uncharted territory,” said Jan Boulanger, a forest ecologist with the department. “The wildfire indicators are very, very high at the moment.”