This weekend will be the first time we’ve experienced temperatures below plus 30-degrees Celsius in more than a week. It seems we may be nearing the end of what has been an extraordinary heat wave in Calgary. We normally average five days of plus-30 degree Celsius weather over the course of each summer, but we had five straight days of plus-30 before the month of June even ended. There were seven plus-30 degree Celsius days in total in June, plus lots more days with temperatures in the high ‘20s. On July 29, Alberta broke 38 daily temperature records, with Grande Prairie hitting a scorching 41.5 degrees Celsius and Beaverlodge topping 40 as well. Calgary also broke its daily record, with a temperature of plus-36.3 degrees Celsius, but just missed beating its all-time record of plus-36.5 degrees Celsius, set in August 2018.
The past week has been extreme in many ways. In addition to breaking dozens of weather records, we also broke the 2019 summer record for electricity use. Calgarians have been getting very creative when it comes to outsmarting the heat, which shows that our weather ingenuity isn’t solely limited to the winter. CBC.ca describes how air-conditioned hotels (especially those with pools), saw a major uptick in business, and HVAC professionals are reporting being busier than ever.
There is some reprieve ahead, but there plenty of hot days still to come this summer. This type of extreme heat can be dangerous if you are not careful. Be extra cautious when the weather is hot and avoid overexerting yourself as much as possible
- Stay out of the direct sunlight as much as you can.
- Drink lots of water. The Mayo Clinic recommends 3.7 litres of fluids a day for men and 2.7 litres of fluids a day for women. Fluids can include other drinks, but the majority should be water, and keep drinking throughout the day.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
- Wear sunscreen and lip balm of SPF-30 or higher, and re-apply as directed. A hat will further protect your head, face, and neck.
- If you have to be outside, take regular breaks in a cooler environment. Movie theatres and shopping malls are great places to beat the heat.
- Restrict your wardrobe to lightweight, light-coloured clothing that fits loose from the body.
- An umbrella is useful for providing portable shade.
Watch yourself and others for signs of heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. These can be very dangerous and often escalate quickly. Symptoms such as a high temperature, hot skin, headache, dizziness, and nausea require immediate medical attention.
Protect your home
Your windows and insulation are just as important during the summer as the winter. Poorly insulated homes will leak in heat and older windows will just become portals for the sun. It’s important to check your weather stripping regularly and repair as necessary.
Keep your home a cool sanctuary against the extreme heat throughout the summer by keeping windows tightly closed and curtains drawn during the day to stop hot air from coming in. Open windows at night to cool the house down.
- Window reflectors or blackout curtains are effective for directing heat back outside where it belongs.
- Close doors to shut off areas of the house you are not using.
- Unplug anything electric not in use. You’d be surprised how much heat even a charger can put off.
Installing an air conditioner is an expense, but may be a consideration if you have a number of rooms that need to be kept at a livable temperature. Report any such upgrades to your insurance broker to ensure your home is still valued properly.
Protect your vehicle
Vehicles can take a beating in the extreme heat, so to keep yours in tip-top condition as long as possible, give it a little extra attention in the summer.
- Park in the shade as much as possible to protect your seats and dashboard from the sun’s harmful rays.
- Purchase a windshield sun shade to help shield the interior and keep it a little bit cooler.
- Certain upholstery and dashboard products can add a layer of defense.
- Watch your coolant levels.
- Try to drive when it’s not quite as hot out: this reduces strain on your vehicle’s air-conditioning system (and yourself).
- Keep an eye on your tire pressure, which can fluctuate dramatically in extreme temperatures.
- A clean car reflects more sun than a dirty car.
Never leave pets or children unattended in a hot vehicle. Temperatures rise fast in a closed vehicle, and they will overheat quickly.
Be careful around fire
When things are this hot and dry, it’s wise to simply avoid fires. Even if you watch your fire pit or campfire very closely, sparks can fly a good distance and there’s a lot of good tinder right now. Alberta is prone to wildfires, and it’s up to us to help stop them occurring.
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