Cold weather (under 20c) represents about 75% of our Canadian years. The cold typically starts around the middle of September and can run until mid-June, with not much spring or fall.
November to February is where it is particularly cold, and Canadians consistently have waves of -20c (except the BC lower mainland). No wonder when the temperature finally goes above 15 people decide to put on a t-shirt and shorts.
Summers last about two months of the year and during those two months it gets up to +30c, something most Canadians can not bear it. The heat, humidity and UV rays can do a lot of damage to their long term health simply because we aren’t used to it!
Here are a couple of Canadian summer health hazards and how you can beat them:
The bugs are dormant throughout the cold winter, and they are more active (and hungry) than ever during the summer.
With many lakes and still water around Canada, Mosquitos are a huge issue. Yes, Mosquitos are annoying, but they also carry many diseases, the facts are that mosquitos kill 2.7 million people around the world each year. Mosquitoes are also considered the world’s deadliest animal.
In addition to the mosquitos, in many parts of Canada, you also need to worry about black flies bites as they do draw blood and leave poison in your bloodstream.
If you are out in the wilderness to make sure to apply bug spray regularly (every 30 minutes) to avoid any bites.
Summer is a time to get outside and enjoy the sun. Nevertheless, the Canadian government * news outlets consistently warn Canadians about staying out of the sun, that is because it is a real problem for the country:
“Skin cancers have the highest incidence of all cancers in Canada. The Canadian Cancer Society estimated 6,800 new cases of cutaneous melanoma and 78,300 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer in 2015. From 1986 to 2010, the incidence of melanoma increased by 2% per year among men and 1.5% per year among women.” (Stats Can, 2017)
Avoid getting a sunburn or too many, by applying sunscreen every thirty minutes with outside for an extended period and stick to the shade when you can.
“Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, an illness that arises when the body’s core reaches a temperature higher than 40 °C. It can present itself with a variety of symptoms, including disorientation and lack of sweat and can lead to unconsciousness, and organ failure.” (Canadian Safety Council, 2019)
On days where the real feel is over 30c make sure you bring at least 2L of water with you, stay hydrated and avoid drinking caffeinated or alcoholic related drinks.
As you can see in the image above, Canada is very serious about the heat when it comes to public health. Most of the world between the equator has 30c+ during the day and 20+ year round its quite normal for billions of people.
Alcohol consumption is at a high rate during the summer in Canada. Alcohol with a mixture of heat can lead to significant dehydration. A good strategy, if you are going to drink alcohol is to have one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage consumed.
People always think about driving as being dangerous in the winter, which it is, but there are some hazards Canadians need to watch out for when driving this summer.
Canada has one of the lowest population densities, meaning towns are few and far between once you are outside one of Canada’s five relatively large cities.
When driving long hours, you want to make sure that you know where you are stopping next and take into consideration if there are any cell coverage blackouts along your route. If your car breaks down in a cell coverage blackout area, odds are there are not many people around to help you out as well. You may need to spend hours in the heat with no A/C so be sure to pack some extra water in a cooler, just in case.
You can avoid these instances by:
- Staying sober
- Planning ahead and being realistic about travel times
- Staying off your phone
- Being aware of your speed
You also need to look out for other drivers as people tend to go faster and feel more confident in their driving in the summer.
Don’t let summer hazards scare you, make sure to enjoy your time in the heat and sun by protecting yourself and being aware of your environment. Summer is not long and one of the only times of year you can truly enjoy the outdoors before another winter rolls around.