As we settle into the season known as “the dog days of summer,” this summer seems to be far warmer than usual.
The temperatures of summer 2022 have really gone to the dogs, as historical weather data has proven that the Boston area has recently experienced one of the hottest and driest months on record.
According to the National Weather Service, July 2022 had an average temperature of 77.5 degrees fahrenheit, making it the third hottest July in our area’s history.
This summer has also produced significantly less rain than normal, causing drought conditions for the entire state of Massachusetts.
Currently, our area, along with the Worcester and the North Shore areas, are classified at a Level 3 Critical Drought Status.
Many communities throughout the Commonwealth are implementing measures to conserve water during this state of drought.
As of now, the Town of Tewksbury has not announced a mandatory water ban or restriction, but the bordering town of Wilmington has restricted yard and garden watering to one day per week, and the Town of Billerica has a restriction of two days of watering per week. (These restrictions apply only to public water supply use and not to the use of private wells or water supplies.)
Due to the lack of an ocean breeze, areas north and west of Boston, including the Merrimack Valley area, typically have temperatures that run higher than the temperatures recorded by the National Weather Service for Boston.
This July, the average temperature for the Town of Tewksbury was 88.4 degrees fahrenheit, and so far, the month of August is promising to be just as hot with an average temperature of 92.8 degrees.
Because this summer has been unusually hot, it is important to recognize the symptoms of heat related illnesses to avoid heat stroke, which can be fatal.
Mild heat exhaustion symptoms can be muscle cramps, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, loss of appetite or nausea.
More severe symptoms range from excessive or a lack of sweating, pale or clammy skin, elevated heart rate, confusion, fainting or seizures.
When overheating or heat exhaustion is suspected, soak the head and shirt of the person with cool water for a quicker cool down. Remover the person from heat to an air conditioned place, or shady spot if outdoors, and hydrate with water. If symptoms continue, call 911 for help.
The best way to treat heat exhaustion symptoms is to avoid them altogether.
New Englanders are famous for preparing for winter blizzards and Nor’easters. The same type of preparation should be done for a pending heat wave.
When a heat wave is predicted, there are several things you can do to safely survive the upcoming hot temperatures.
Plan your work and leisure activities according to the temperature. Avoid strenuous outdoor activities such as yard work, hiking or jogging during extreme temperatures, or plan to do these activities during cooler parts of the day like early morning or dusk. Take several scheduled breaks to rest and hydrate. Always use the rule of thumb, the higher the temperature, the more often you need to stop for a break.
Dress in loose fitting, light colored, lightweight clothes and shield your face from the sun with a hat or an umbrella. Sunscreen should always be used during long exposure in the sun, but keep in mind sunscreen will not prevent heat exhaustion or heat stroke symptoms.
During a heat wave, air conditioning can save lives. Many of the fatalities from heat related illness are due to a lack of air conditioning.
Those who do not have air conditioning in their homes should consider the small investment of a window air conditioner. Window AC units start around $100, and can provide the much needed relief your body needs during prolonged periods of extreme temperatures.
If purchasing an air conditioner is not an option, have a plan of how you can access air conditioned areas. Experts say even a few hours a day of air conditioning can be beneficial during a heat wave.
Visit a friend or relative with air conditioning, or spend time in a public library or shopping mall.
Try to keep your home as well ventilated as possible. Fans can help as long as the indoor air is not too hot and stagnate. Blowing hot air around will not aid in the prevention of heat related illnesses.
Place fans where they are most likely to pull in cool air, like in front of a window that faces a shady part of your backyard, rather than a window that faces the hot street or driveway.
Avoid using the oven during a heat wave. Cook meals outside on the grill, or have cold salads and sandwiches.
Keep plenty of cool water on hand, and drink regularly, even if you are not thirsty.
Always remember, if it is too hot for you, it is also too hot for your pets! Keep pets cool and hydrated, and watch for signs of overheating.
Avoid exercising your pet during the hottest parts of the day. Also avoid walks on hot pavement and asphalt, which can burn paw pads.
Plants also need extra attention during a heat wave. Water in the morning to give plants time to absorb the moisture before it gets too hot. Putting mulch around in-ground plants will slow down evaporation, and potted plants should be moved to a shady spot for a few hours during a heat wave.
This hot summer has certainly proven to stretch the tolerance of everyone here in New England. Although the native New Englander is not used to long exposure to high temperatures like our southern countrymen, we are certainly used to surviving all that Mother Nature can dish out.
With a little Yankee ingenuity and careful planning, everyone can stay safe and the summer of 2022 could prove to be the best doggone summer yet. Keep in mind, in only a few short months we will be complaining about shoveling snow.