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No relief from heat this week

BY HEIDI ULRICHSEN heidi@northernlife.ca Science North weather guru and science director Alan Nursall has one overall assessment of Sudbury?s climate so far this July ? it?s really stinkin? hot out.
BY HEIDI ULRICHSEN

Science North weather guru and science director Alan Nursall has one overall assessment of Sudbury?s climate so far this July ? it?s really stinkin? hot out.

Unfortunately, with projected temperatures in the low to mid-30s for the rest of the week, relief is at least a few days away for Nursall and all Sudburians.

?I can?t give you a root cause as to why it?s hot other than the jet stream over eastern North America is swinging way north, and it?s in a nice stable position...It?s drawing warm air up over Ontario from down in the Gulf of Mexico area,? he says.

?All forecasts indicate that for the next four to five days it?s not moving anywhere.?

Apparently, the whole summer of 2005 is supposed to be hot and dry, says Nursall. June was a very warm month, with average daytime temperatures sitting about three degrees above normal.

There wasn?t much rain either. Sudbury?s normal June rainfall is about 80 mm, but last month the area only got about 27 mm. Most of that rainfall came in one day.

But if a time machine transported us to the summer of 1988, perhaps we?d soon be begging to come back to the era of e-mail, iPods and George W. Bush. Temperatures in early July of that year ranged from 33 to 37.

This latest heat wave is definitely not unprecedented, says Nursall. The summer of 1966 was also extremely hot.

Maybe we should be celebrating the warm weather instead of complaining about it, he says.

After all, last year we had a cold, wet, dreary summer where it was hard to swim or sunbathe. ?I?ll take this,? says the scientist. ?I?d rather complain about the heat than complain about the cold. Let?s not forget how we rattle on in January, waiting for the summer. We?ve got nothing to complain about except a little bit of discomfort when sleeping. Get out there and enjoy it.?

But for vulnerable populations like young children, the heat can be deadly, says Vicki Kuula-Ross, public health nurse at the Sudbury & District Health Unit. ?Their bodies have a real lack of ability to regulate their temperature that well...they also dehydrate more quickly,? she says.

The chronically or mentally ill, those taking certain types of medications and the elderly are also at risk, says Kuula-Ross.

People should take the time to check on elderly or vulnerable neighbours and give them a break from the heat if they can, she says.

If someone has too much exposure to heat, they may be suffering from a heat-related illness. Symptoms of heat-related illnesses include rapid breathing, weakness, fainting, more tiredness than usual, headaches and confusion.

Depending upon the severity of the illness, people can try to cool the victim down with cool water and getting them to drink fluids. If necessary, phone 911.

The public health nurse has all kinds of tips on how to stay cool this week. It?s really just common sense, she says.

If you want to go jogging, mow the lawn or even spend time lounging in the great outdoors, do it in the morning or the evening and wear a hat and sunscreen, says Kuula-Ross. As well, drink plenty of fluids, and avoid alcohol (which is a dehydrant).

If people find themselves suffering in a non air-conditioned home or apartment, they should head out to the closest mall, library or community centre during the hottest hours of the day (from 10 am to 3 pm).

Wearing loose-fitting, light clothing can also help to beat the heat. Turning the lights off, having a cool bath or shower and sleeping in the basement
are also good ideas, she says.