Things are heating up in Nanaimo! This summer has so far been one of the hottest on records, with temperatures on Vancouver Island reaching all-time highs according to meteorologists.
Now whilst it is great to enjoy the sunshine on board one of our many beautiful yachts, with such hot conditions it is also important to remember your key sun safety facts. In this article, we will talk you through staying safe in the sun.
Throughout July, Environment Canada put in place a special weather warning for the mid island area, and this was due to there being a ridge of high pressure over the Island. Coastal temperatures, as usual, remained a little lower, but we saw temperatures of 30 degrees and over here at the coast, which soared to a staggering 40 plus degrees in land. These numbers are about 10 degrees hotter than the island average for this time of year, which tends to be around the 22/23 degree mark. Climate specialists are concerned by this hot anomaly, and resultantly are advising people to take precautions when out and about.
In addition to it being a very hot month, it has also been incredibly dry. In Nanaimo only around 0.4mm of rain fell in July, when the average is close to 26mm. Meaning the whole weather pattern has been off all summer, and this is something many were not prepared for.
The weather continues to be unseasonably hot as we enter August, and so if you are visiting the province, come prepared for the heat, especially if you are travelling with young ones, or elderly relatives as they are particularly susceptible to the hotter conditions. Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are the most pressing concern.
It is crucial to be aware of the symptoms of these illnesses and to be on alert for them at all times when travelling with your family throughout the summer.The range of symptoms can present mildly, or quite severely. They include rashes, muscle cramps, sweating, and (contrariwise) pale, cool, moist skin. Some may also experience swelling of the hands and feet, weakness and fatigue, dizziness and fainting, and nausea or vomiting. Headaches are also a common side effect, and if the illness is already well developed, you may experience a fever, hallucinations, and red hot dry skin. As you can see there are quite a few tell tail signs, so if you suspect, it is best to seek medical advice promptly.
The most important thing is to check in on each other regularly, especially infants and young children and those over 65.
It is a little known fact that people who suffer from mental illness, or who have a physical illness such as heart disease or high blood pressure, are also more susceptible to heat based ailments. Reminding family members and travel companions to keep hydrated is the key to prevention.
This means water, and a lot of it. Even if you are not thirsty, or haven’t been particularly active, keep hydrated. Water is the best for hydration, and there are many other fluids it is best to avoid in the heat, such as alcohol or caffeine based drinks.
Fizzy drinks to with lots of sugar are not conducive to good health (well, all the time) but particularly in the heat. There are however a number of other things you can do to ensure that fun in the sun is the one, and not illness.
First of all, staying below deck, or inside.
Somewhere air conditioned preferably.
Research shows that even a couple of hours in an air-conditioned place such as a restaurant or shopping mall, can help keep your body at a cooler temperature when you go back outside. Fans, although they feel nice, are not actually all that helpful in temperatures over 27 degrees Celsius.
They simply move the hot air around, and therefore do not prevent heat related illnesses.
Instead try a nice cold shower, or a bath, or even a swim in the cooler sea or lakes in the area. Wearing light weight, pale coloured, loose-fitting clothes is also key to staying cool in hot temperatures.
And of course, never leave pets or children inside a locked, parked vehicle.
If you are outside, ensure a good high factor (over 30) sun cream is applied all over any exposed skin. Do this a good half an hour before going out so that the cream absorbs into the skin. Critically you must also reapply throughout the day, especially after any water based activities (even if the bottle of the lotion says water resistant), and if you have perspired heavily. Shade is your friend in these conditions, as tempting as it can be to try and top up the tan. Even if it appears cloudy, in conditions like we have been experiencing, the sun’s rays are strong enough to reach you even under the cover of cloud. Wearing a hat is also a good idea, as well as sun glasses. Also ensure that you plan any outdoor activities for when the sun isn’t at its hottest (so between 10 and 3). The heat is also tiring, so plan frequent rest stops when holidaying in hot weather.
In summary, to enjoy the sun, think safety and preparation first, and remember those key signs of heat related illnesses.