by Pettus Read
For the last couple of weeks, the weather has been the perfect source for a continuous supply of those "it has been so hot that
" jokes. The temperature and the heat index have become the general subject of conversation in most groups and the dog days of summer have given all of us a true appreciation of modern day air conditioning. I have learned that you can actually drive a car with two fingers due to your steering wheel reaching the temperature of melting iron and sunglasses left on the front seat can give you a second degree burn when placed upon your nose after leaving from work.
It has been hot and for those of us who work inside, we have very little to complain about compared to those individuals who really make their living truly by the sweat of their brow and work outside during these hot days of summer. Farmers are not really feeding their chickens crushed ice to keep them from laying hard-boiled eggs and the cows are not giving evaporated milk due to the heat either, but Tennessee's farmers are having to be careful when it comes to getting up hay and other work related activities on the farm in extremely high heat index conditions. A little known fact is that heat is the top weather-related killer, ahead of lightning, tornadoes and hurricanes, so says The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). If you have ever experienced "white eyeing" while working outside on a hot day, then you can believe NOAA's claim about how heat can really change your day in a hurry if you get too hot.
If you have to work outside during these days here are a few tips from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention on avoiding a trip to the ER.
Drink more fluids (non-alcoholic), regardless of your activity level. Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink. Warning: If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask him how much you should drink while the weather is hot.
Don't drink liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar-these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.
Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
Cut down on exercise. If you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, non-alcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. Warning: If you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage. Remember the warning in the first "tip" (above), too.
Try to rest often in shady areas.
Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat (also keeps you cooler) and sunglasses and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say "broad spectrum" or "UVA/UVB protection" on their labels).
The NOAA will issue heat alerts based on heat index values, which combines temperature and humidity.
The combination of high temperature and high humidity reduces your body's ability to cool itself. For example, the heat you feel when the actual temperature is 90ºF with a relative humidity of 70% is 106ºF. When the heat index is high, drink plenty of water and spend the midday hours someplace cool! Another place for finding heat beating ideas is at the Old Farmer's Almanac website at almanac.com.
Try to stay safe during these hot days and just remember that it won't be very long before we will be swapping the heat index for the chill factor in the upcoming months. You know, if we could have the chill factor in the summer and use the heat index in the winter, then maybe by using mind over matter it wouldn't feel so hot this time of the year and so cold later on. I threw this last part in so you could have something to think about as you look for shade the next few days.