VICTORIA, B.C. – This summer’s record-breaking high temperatures claimed the lives of almost 600 British Columbians, including 21 in the Northern Health region.

According to data released by the BC Coroners Service, 595 lives were lost due to extreme heat.

“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.”

The largest number of deaths took place between June 25th and July 1st, during the heat-dome which resulted in numerous record-breaking temperatures being set and broken throughout the province.

During this heat-dome, at least 526 deaths took place, and several deaths recorded in the days and weeks following were due to injuries sustained during this heat-dome.

In the Northern Health region, 21 heat-related deaths were recorded, with three deaths in the Northeast.

The BC Coroners Service is expecting to have completed its investigations into the 595 deaths by early 2022. When that is complete, the service will do a death review panel to create recommendations to prevent similar deaths.

“While we expect the findings of the death review will significantly contribute to efforts to increase public safety, we must take steps to prepare for future extreme weather events now,” Lapointe said.

“The effects of climate change are both real and unpredictable. Having a plan to regularly check in with loved ones who live alone, being aware of cooler and air-conditioned areas in your neighbourhood, and heeding early warnings about extreme weather are simple steps that will help ensure we are all properly prepared and safe.”