We seem to think the “Dog Days of Summer” occur only in the month of August and that means our minds turn to thinking it will be cooler in September. I’d say that has proven to be wrong over and over again. We topped 100 degrees (101 degrees at the Eugene Airport August 15th and continue to reach the mid and upper 90s. We relay the same information about drinking plenty of water, wearing sun screen, not overdoing work or exercise outside, and spending more time in air conditioned facilities when the temperature reaches the mid 90s and breaking 100 degrees.
We all have heard that advice for years, but how many times do you find yourself working in the garden on a hot day and getting so engulfed in the work you don’t realize how hot it is and that you haven’t put on more sunscreen or sipped some water even though you are sweating buckets? In these days of COVID-19 we have been inundated with rules including what to do and what not to do.
I equate these situations with flying on a commercial airliner. I know I have mentioned this kind of situation in other articles, but it does really fit here also. As the plane takes off a flight attendant rattles off all of the safety information like what to do if the cabin loses pressure and those masks come down. The problem is that most people are not paying attention and when those masks do actually come down they don’t remember what to do. My reminding you what to do in hot weather, repetitive though it may be, might just resonate in your brain just when you need it the most.
How dangerous is hot weather? According to Kids and Cars.org on average 38 children die from heat-related causes after being trapped inside motor vehicles. From 1999-2003 the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says 3,442 deaths resulted from exposure to extreme heat. Quoting them directly: “For 2,239 (65%) of these deaths, the underlying cause of death was was recorded as exposure to excessive heat; for the remaining 1,203 (35%), hyperthermia was recorded as a contributing factor. Deaths among males accounted for 66% of deaths and outnumbered deaths among females in all age groups.”
Exactly what is hyperthermia? Wikipedia defines Hyperthermia as “elevated body temperature due to failed thermoregulation that results when a body produces or absorbs more heat than it dissipates. Extreme temperature elevation then becomes a medical emergency requiring immediate treatment to prevent disability or death.” You might remember that some of the signs that hyperthermia is beginning are heat exhaustion (also called heat stress or heat prostration), heavy sweating, rapid breathing and a fast and weak pulse. When heat stroke sets in one experiences hot dry skin which shows the inability to dissipate heat through sweating.
Let’s take just one day out of a week and see how well people listen to what we say. Wednesday July 27, 2015 there were three incidents that should never have happened. Around 11:30 am a baby was rescued from a locked hot car by a Walmart employee who broke a window to remove the child. The police were called and the woman was facing charges. Around 2:00 pm a woman, who also left her baby in a hot car, said she forgot the baby was with her as she went to shop at Albertsons. The third incident occurred at about 2:30 pm outside of First Place Family Shelter when a mother’s screaming children were found locked in her hot car. No word concerning whether the second and third mothers were prosecuted.
All of the weather people, me included, have warned people that a serious hot weather event was building. Looking at the weather statistics for the Mahlon Sweet Airport will show the variation of temperatures for Eugene during the month of August 2020. Average high temperatures for the period is in the range of 80 degrees to the low 80s. The month started out just warm, then heated up to 90 degrees on the 4th and 95 degrees on the 10th with 80s in between. Now it gets interesting. Eugene set a record high temperature of 101 on August 15th and the old record was 97 degrees set in 1967. The next three days were also hot with 92 on the 16th, 95 on the 17th, and 90 on the 18th. It was back to the low, mid, and upper 80s from August 19th through the 31st to round out the month with warm but not exceedingly hot temperatures. A sudden warmup took place to begin the month of September. It started off with 90 degrees on the 1st and 95 degrees on the 2nd. A drastic cool down on September 4th dropped the high temperature to a comfortable 77 degrees. Then Saturday September 5th reached a high temperature of 81 degrees. Those numbers might give you the idea that the hot weather is gone for this season, but you would be wrong. The computer model outlook for Labor Day through the week predicted more hot weather reaching the 90s again for Oregon.
During the period Red Flag Warnings, Fire Weather Advisories, Excessive Heat Warnings and Watches, and Heat Advisories were issues for various areas of Oregon. There also was some haze and smoke in the air due to the wildfires, particularly the Sweet Creek Mile Post 2 wildfire near Mapleton.
All of the local media kept warning the public to be careful when outside in the heat. Considering how hot it has been I know all of us were justified in warning the public of the dangers related to such high temperatures. I feel sorry for those poor children who had to suffer at the stupidity of their own parents that I mentioned earlier. (Yes, I admit that is blatant opinion on my part.) Somewhere online I read that a person had a possible solution for those who are so tied to their cell phones they forget their children are in the car with them. The solution was to put their cellphone in the back seat near the child. That way when they leave the vehicle they will have to retrieve the phone and will see their child too. To me it can be summed up by a quote from the movie Forest Gump which I have mentioned many times before. “Stupid is as stupid does.” Enough said. I will continue to warn you when the weather can threaten your life or property no matter what the season. It’s up to you what you do with that information.
Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].