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Too hot to handle

Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 10:02 AM

This is a very short story about heat. There is no doubt that excessive heat and humidity can be unbearable. Personally, I have a low tolerance for extreme conditions such as heat. For people such as myself, coping strategies are a must. 

Having said that, today I ventured out just to get a taste of the leathery, wet blanket-like atmosphere that overhung my immediate surroundings. As per usual, there was very little cloud at day break as the sun lifted over the horizon from the east. Interestingly, there was an accompanying breeze, gentle and light. The sun’s rays cast silky luminance upon anything that could hold a reflection. It was a grand scene. And while it might have been warm by that point, the heat was not that bad.

Our 2 year-old black lab, Charlie, loves the outdoors – no matter the time of day. Even when it is hot and sunny outside, she loves to play outdoors. But by the time the sun is beating directly over her, she’s had enough. At that point the sun feels as hot as an open oven. The wave of heat hit us as Charlie and I ventured into the backyard for a game of fetch at 11:00am. While the temperature was still in the low 20’s, it felt more like it was in the low thirties. 

By the mid-afternoon these conditions reached critical levels with the combined heat and humidity making it feel as though it was 40. Environment Canada acted swiftly by issuing heat and humidex alerts and advisories for the province. Under these conditions, the very young, elderly, disabled, and those with respiratory ailments, are put at risk of succumbing to the heat. It’s potentially a deadly situation for those who live in apartments with poor ventilation and no air conditioning. In this kind of heat, we need to check on our neighbours and our pets. 

Charlie took to her bed, indoors. She’s a very smart and savvy girl. Even shade under our gazebo wasn’t good enough for her. At first she was brooding, and then she was fed up. Eventually, she was comfortable as she stayed cool in the living room while taking frequent naps. I followed suit. 

Fortunately, our air-conditioning was doing its job well. But I could not help but feel for those in need of relief from the oppressive conditions. Thankfully, cooling centres are available in Toronto and there are also swimming pools, malls, libraries, other places to visit to get out of the thermal onslaught. Visit a friend with a pool – but don’t have a beer or any high caffeine beverage since these will sap hydration. Instead, sip a glass of ice water over a long stretch throughout the day, next to the pool, under shade… talk about plans for a trip up north to the arctic. 

Be cool. 


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