The deaths of three people around B.C. may have been caused, at least in part, by the extreme cold weather and snow that has blanketed much of the province in December, reports the BC Coroners Service.
The deaths are all believed to have been caused by the recent weather conditions. A woman who was living in a tent at a homeless camp near Chilliwack died when her tent collapsed on her after snow had accumulated on it.
A man in Anahim Lake was found dead outside his house in the cold, while a man found dead in his Williams Lake home had numerous health issues, but his house was found to be very cold. All three cases remain under investigation by the coroners service.
Hypothermia can be fatal for anyone, but the elderly, frail, and mobility-challenged may be particularly at risk if their core body temperature dips. Hypothermia can occur indoors, especially for the elderly and infirm, if the outdoor temperature is cold enough and the heating system for the building fails or is inadequate.
Another heightened risk in cold weather is fire or carbon-monoxide poisoning, which can occur when people turn to makeshift arrangements to try to keep warm in their homes.
Neighbours, especially those in rural and remote areas, are being encouraged to watch out for others, and make sure they have shelter, warmth, water, and food during the cold weather. This is especially important with neighbours who are elderly, with people encouraged to call or drop by to ensure they are coping.
Never use a stove or oven to heat your home, and do not use a generator indoors. Space heaters should be placed on a hard, level surface, with anything flammable kept at least three feet away. If your home is heated by a wood stove, ensure you have plenty of wood available before a forecast snow storm or prolonged cold spell.