The Lethal Heat Wave Is the Latest Public Health Crisis to Be Blamed on Its Victims

This past week saw a record-breaking heat dome pass over the Pacific Northwest and Canada, leaving many people in Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Washington dead from heat-related causes. It has been particularly devastating in British Columbia. Lytton, which is a small community in the province, was destroyed by a wildfire that decimated 90 percent. A literal firestorm was created by intense lightning strikes. Yet, when asked if the government had done enough in British Columbia to inform British Columbians of the health risks associated to the heat crisis, a Canadian official took it upon himself, to blame the victims. Advertisement I will wait for the coroners determination. Dr. Henry stated that fatalities are part of life and that officials are responsible for examining the consequences. Premier John Horgan spoke Tuesday during a press conference. (Horgan was referring specifically to Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial public health officer. Advertisement Advertisement He said that the public was aware of our heat problem and that we were trying to make it clear to people. Everyone who walked out of the doors was aware that we were experiencing an unprecedented heat wave. Again, this is where everyone has to take responsibility. Advertisement Subscribe to the Slatest Newsletter Get a daily email update with the latest stories. Signing you up was not possible due to an error Please try again. To use this form, please enable jаvascript. Email address: I would like to receive updates on Slate special offers. You agree to our Privacy Policy & Terms by signing up. Thank you for signing up! You can cancel your subscription at any time. Some public officials can be apathetic to their constituents in times of crisis. Public health emergencies are often reduced to the individual's inability to prepare. This is a micro manifestation of the micro strategy of ignoring health consequences due to personal choices. Horgan's comments show how leaders and institutions often neglect personal responsibility during crisis situations to avoid asking tough questions. This is the third time I have written a variation of this. Same logic can be used to blame obesity on people who refuse to eat well, or whole communities for not being prepared to evacuate in the event of a hurricane. A collective problem or societal problem is when everyone fails to do the right thing, regardless of how difficult the circumstances may have been. Advertisement Advertisement First responders in British Columbia have been overwhelmed by sudden death calls. They are pleading with citizens to check in on each other. Officials estimate that 486 people died of heat-related causes in the five days between June 25-June 30, a 195 percent increase over what is expected for a five day period despite the opening cooling centers. Although it's too early to know how many deaths were caused by heat, Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner for the province, stated that it is likely that the large increase in deaths is due to the severe weather conditions in BC, which continues to affect many areas of the province. Since then, Horgan has offered his condolences for the families who have lost loved ones.