Dealing with the ‘dog days’ of midsummer

”Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun,” wrote Noel Coward. Well, try telling that to our military forces serving in the Middle East right now. Perhaps those living in the extreme-heat Sunbelt or Mexico practice siesta time, but our summers are often too short for those of us who enjoy being outdoors to spend the midday hours in air-conditioned comfort indoors or reclining in a hammock under a shade tree.

Considering the summer of 2009 was the 34th coolest on record, with more than 2,000 nationwide record lows recorded, this year is seeing it running substantially warmer – July 2010’s mean temperature was 70.1 degrees, compared to a normal 67.4 – and accompanied by higher humidity. But to “waste” what can be some beautiful summertime days to enjoy the outdoors is hard for many of us to do, so we adjust, adopt some hot weather procedures, and persevere knowing autumn and eventually winter aren’t all that far away.

From experience, I feel two of the potentially warmest outdoor places when it’s hot and humid are golf courses and sandy beaches with no breeze coming ashore. A third might well be large open yards and parks with no shade. Expansive parking lots and asphalt tennis courts are a couple others. Even swimming pools surrounded by a deck or concrete can be stifling hot unless you’re in the water. Conversely, larger ponds and lakes at least usually offer some midday relief via the breeze that flows across the large open expanse of cooler-than-air water. That’s not to say a bright sun, cloudless day can’t see radiational solar heating from the overhead sun making your body temperature rise.

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