Respect the temp 0
Hot enough for ya?
That’s the question people are asking each other frequently this summer, as ongoing hot weather has scorched Ontarians for extended periods of time and set a host of records.
As we slid into yet another heat wave (generally understood to be three straight days of 30+ temperatures) Thursday, the biggest cause for concern is the dry conditions that have threatened crops and plants throughout the province. Weather records from Environment Canada indicate normal rainfall for the month of July is 76.5 mm (3.01 inches) but so far this month we have had but three millimetres, hardly a trace on the scale. Combine the arid environment with soaring temperatures and little wonder the “D word” (drought) has crept into the conversation.
One of the records this summer has contributed to is the one that shows the 12-month period from July 2011 to June 2012 has been the hottest 12-month period in history.
Not surprisingly, a daily reminder of how hot it is may be contributing to the withering heat. As the sun beats down on us from its perch in the solar system, scientists have documented a number of intense solar storms (often called flares) this year, the largest just last week (July 6). These storms have been known to affect weather here on earth as well as disrupting satellite and GPS communication systems. Solar flares have historically been connected to unusual warm or cold periods on earth, including the “little ice age” that took place about five centuries ago.
While we have yet to better our record high temperature for July (38.5 set on July 20, 1977) we have had a number of days over 30 this month, and also last month. With highs today and tomorrow expected to approach 35 celsius (95 fahrenheit), it will be important to limit physical exertion, stay cool and keep hydrated. This is ideal weather for heat exhaustion.
Heat exhaustion is caused by overexposure to the heat, leading to dehydration once perspiration stops.
Strenuous activity in the heat, or even extended sunbathing, can cause heat exhaustion which in turn can lead to heat stroke. Symptoms of heat exhaustion can include nausea, vomiting, headache, fatigue and dizziness. Those most susceptible to heat stroke include infants, the elderly, athletes and outside labourers. Heat stroke is a form of hyperthermia, an abnormally elevated body temperature that is often fatal if not properly and promptly treated. Symptoms of heat stroke can include fever, dehydration, difficulty breathing, hallucinations, disorientation, seizure and even coma.
Victims of heat stroke must receive immediate treatment to avoid permanent organ damage. After calling 9-1-1, cool the victim by moving him/her inside, spray them with cool water or place ice packs in armpits and groin. Have them drink cool liquids (no alcohol or caffeine) and monitor their body temperature until EMS staff arrives.
We look forward to the summer and the heat after a (usually) long, cold winter but with the change of seasons come new threats to our health if we’re not careful. Enjoy the bright sunshine, but like everything else – too much of a good thing can be bad for you. Moderation is the key to continued enjoyment.
With thanks to Environment Canada and The Weather Network.
Peter Lapinskie is managing editor of The Daily Observer. He works in a nice, air-conditioned office.