Monday 4 August 2014

The Heat is On!

Summer brings with it the inevitable warnings with regards to heat, humidity,  and smog.  We have waited so long for some warm weather that it is easy to ignore an advisory or a warning about this, but we need to pay attention or the consequences can be serious.  

 Air quality decreases during times of hot temperatures because the heat and sunlight essentially cook the air along with all the chemical compounds lingering within it. This chemical soup combines with the naturally occurring nitrogen oxide in the air, creating a “smog” of ground-level ozone gas. This makes breathing difficult for those who already have respiratory ailments or heart problems and can also make healthy people more susceptible to respiratory infections.

 One of the main things we hear about is the humidex. This site explains what the humidex is and how humidity affects us.  People with chronic medical conditions can be the first to suffer from high heat or humidity.  If you are on a salt-reduced diet, profuse sweating from extreme heat can put you at risk.  If you are working outside, heat stroke and heat exhaustion are common problems.   

Visiting the beach is often a time when we lose track of how long we have been out in the sun.  Having access to the water and a cool breeze you can feel like you aren’t at risk,  but the effects of sunstroke can show up unexpectedly.  I am sure a lot of you have experienced that slightly nauseous feeling when you have spent a day in the sun.  This is one of the symptoms of sunstroke. Make sure you keep hydrated!  

This goes for your pets as well.  Watch for excessive panting, listlessness, or staggering.  Make sure they have ample cold water and try and keep their temperature down with cool cloths. If it’s hot for you it’s hotter for them.   So let’s all keep our cool and enjoy the summer.   

--Patricia Milner, Head of Reference Services

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