Maynard van der Galien
There is something I don’t understand about people and it really perplexes me. Why is it that on hot humid days, with the sun beating down, people are outdoors doing all kinds of recreational activities? Turn on the evening news on a sweltering day and you see young folks at a beach playing volley ball or soccer. They are jumping about and obviously having a great time in the heat. Go by a ball diamond and people are playing ball.
People are out jogging. On a bicycle. Thousands ran in the May race weekend in Ottawa and paramedics were on site watching for runners suffering from heat exhaustion. It seems that people come alive and relish those hot summer days. You’ll even see older men cutting their postage-size lawns with a push mower when it’s 95 degrees F.
Now don’t get me wrong. I think it’s great that people get out of their homes and spend time in the great outdoors, but to be exerting yourself in the heat is crazy and dangerous to your health and wellbeing. Why not just sit under a shady tree? But, then, hey, that’s old stuff that folks did long ago.
A front page article in the Ottawa Citizen last month said a free skin-check clinic held in Ottawa revealed that of the 300 patients who were screened, 60 were diagnosed with some form of skin cancer. Ten of which were melanomas, the most deadly form of skin cancer. Doctors were very concerned.
One of the cases of melanoma identified at the clinic was so advanced that the patient was sent to the hospital the following day for expedited treatment.
All my life I tried to stay out of the sun as much as possible. Sure, when we were making small square bales of hay it had to be made while the sun was shining and the days were sometimes very hot. And we sat in an open-air tractor. Work had to be done. But I wouldn’t think of doing recreational things like playing ball on a hot day or evening. I’d be in the house.
Last summer I was really stumped by something I witnessed on an extremely hot Sunday. I would have liked to skip church that scorching Sunday but I was participating in the service so I had to be there. As I was nearing my destination, I saw a number of vehicles parked along the road. I thought someone was having a family get-together or a reunion. When church was out and I was heading home at 11:30, there were cars parked along both sides of the road for as far as I could see and people walking to and from their vehicles.
I drove over to see what was going on. It was like there was a circus and people were flocking to it. But this was a residential neighbourhood. No businesses anywhere nearby. Just two churches along the road. Vehicles were also parked along the many side streets of the main route. And then I saw what brought hundreds of people out to an event on a hot Sunday morning: An auction sale of household goods.
Most people couldn’t even get close to the action in the backyard of the house. They had to stand back and watch from the sidelines. And I’m sure most of them went there to get a bargain on something. Sometimes they do. But sometimes people bid on stuff like crazy and drive up the price.
The Government of Canada has advice on their website about sun safety tips. “Avoid sun exposure: wear a wide-brimmed, breathable hat or use an umbrella. Wear sunglasses: make sure they provide protection against UVA and UVB rays.
Limit your time in the sun: especially between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.”
I’m all for avoiding sun exposure on hot days. But I’m puzzled by their advice to limit your time in the sun between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Avoid and limit?
My sun protection makes a lot more sense and it’s pretty simple. Staying indoors is the most effective method of sun protection on the market. It’s easy, no need to apply and re-apply the terrible chemical stuff like sunscreen. On hot afternoons you’ll find me lying in bed in my underwear with a fan lightly circulating the air. Ah, what a cool relaxing life!
Maynard van der Galien is a Renfrew-area farmer and a long-time columnist with Farmers Forum.