Fraser Valley/Vancouver -The BC Coroners Service has confirmed that there have been 3 deaths so far this month that may be directly related to the extremely cold weather around the province.
Two came in the Cariboo-Chilcotin and one in Chilliwack. That was a 51 year old women who was trapped in her tent, under the weight of snow. Her camp was behind the Wal-Mart at Eagle Landing, a well knows off the grid encampment for the homeless. Family members who are also homeless, found her body.
All three cases are still under investigation and the causes of death have yet to be officially determined.
The Coroners Service says hypothermia can be a killer for anyone, but the elderly, frail and mobility-challenged may be particularly at-risk if in circumstances where their core body temperature dips.
Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe noted “The wind chill is also a major factor and the she adds being wet or drinking too much alcohol can also leave people at risk for hypothermia.(She expressed her concerned for the elderly and other at-risk neighbours). The other risk in this cold weather is carbon-monoxide poisoning or fire, specifically impacting the homeless who may be living in makeshift homes. (The recent fire at the Yale Road overpass homeless camp in Chilliwack was allegedly started by a propane heater and/or candle. That has yet to be confirmed.)
The ice box conditions are expected to thaw starting Monday with temperatures hitting PLUS 8C.
The Provincial Media Release:
With the forecast for several more days of unusually cold weather throughout much of the province, the BC Coroners Service is urging everyone to take special care of themselves – and each other.
The Coroners Service is aware of three deaths so far this month that may be related to extreme weather conditions – two in the Cariboo-Chilcotin and one in the upper Fraser Valley. Those cases remain under investigation, and causes of death have not yet been confirmed.
Hypothermia can be a killer for anyone, but the elderly, frail and mobility-challenged may be particularly at-risk if in circumstances where their core body temperature dips. The BC Coroners Service reminds everyone that this can happen even in a residence or other building if the outdoor temperature is cold enough and the heating system for the building fails for some reason.
Especially in more rural and remote areas, neighbours are urged to watch out for each other and ensure everyone has shelter, warmth, water and food during the cold snap.
“If you know your neighbours are elderly, take the time to give them a call or drop by, just to make sure they are coping,” said Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe.
Precautions should also be taken when outdoors with the wind chill factor, which combines the effects of temperature and wind, taken into account. Getting wet is also a factor which greatly increases the risk for hypothermia, as is impairment with alcohol.
Another heightened risk in cold weather is fire or carbon-monoxide poisoning, especially if people turn to makeshift arrangements to try to maintain warmth in their homes.