British Columbians warned to prepare for coming heat wave


B.C. government takes pre-emptive step after learning from last year’s heat dome that killed hundreds

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The B.C. government has issued a warning for residents to prepare for a coming jump in temperatures — more than a year after it failed to adequately warn people of a heat dome that killed hundreds.

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On Tuesday evening, the Ministry of Public Safety issued a statement telling residents to expect higher temperatures as a ridge of high pressure moves eastward into the province. This is expected to result in heat warnings this weekend and early next week.

“Hot and dry weather for many parts of British Columbia is predicted by Environment and Climate Change Canada,” the ministry states.

“While the current forecast suggests a dip in daytime high temperatures late this week, there is potential for the high-pressure ridge to ramp up this weekend and into next week, which may lead to higher temperatures.”

The ministry says B.C. is not currently anticipating an extreme heat emergency, but people are “encouraged” to monitor Environment and Climate Change Canada for temperature forecasts in their region.

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Between June 25 and July 1, 2021, at least 600 people died from heat-related causes after a high-pressure system settled across southern B.C. and would not budge for several days — creating a heat dome. Most of these people were single seniors living in low-income housing and almost all the deaths occurred indoors.

A subsequent review by the B.C. Coroner’s Service found there was a lag between heat alerts being issued by Environment Canada and a response from the B.C. government and other agencies. The province was in a state of emergency (in which it remains) at the time due to COVID-19.

Tuesday’s government statement urged people to come up with a plan for how they will deal with heat, including finding out where to stay cool like in community centres and public libraries.

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