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.