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Portrait & Caricature Art by Linda Laforge

Barrie | Ontario | Canada Copyright © 2016 Linda Laforge

What do Artists and Street Vendors do to Beat Extreme Heat?

The Weather Network states our average high temperature for June is 23.5º, and for July, 26.4º. According to Global News, since the beginning July, a “persistent heat wave gripped parts of the Northern Hemisphere and smashed weather records in Canada, the United States, Europe and the Middle East.” We’ve had several days that reached over 30, with the humidex, it easily went into the 40’s.

As an artist who does outdoor festivals, staying indoors during Canada Day weekend wasn’t an option. Outside of the usual – wearing sunscreen and dressing for the weather, what can be done to avoid health issues like heat rash, heat exhaustion or even stroke?

These are a few tricks I learned while working that 40º+ weekend outside.

Beatin ghte heat at an outdoor festival1. Water, Water and More Water

Our bodies lose a lot of water sweating in high temperatures. Make sure you have more water on hand than you would normally drink. You’ll need it. I was amazed at how much water I drank and how little I urinated while in that heat.

Dehydration can cause fatigue, headaches and nausea and can have more serious health consequences for the very young and elderly. RedCross.ca states that one symptom of heat-related illness is decreased urination with unusually dark yellow urine.

2. Freeze Bottled Water

There are a lot of hard working people who who do hard physical labour surrounded by hot equipment and in environments that create even more heat. I talked with a Merrick, a window washer who has cleaned the outside of the CN Tower. He suggested freezing the water bottles I intended to drink. Since I usually only bring a refillable tin, I took his advice and purchased and froze water overnight.

According to Heart.org, facial flushing occurs when blood vessels in the face dilate and can occur in response to certain triggers such as sun and heat exposure. Friends warned that my face was burnt. It was not.

If didn’t wear those bottles under my t-shirt to keep my body temperature down I don’t think I would have lasted two days, much less one. The ice melted quick enough that I had actual cold water to drink. Something the local convenience stores ran to of.

3. Fans and Water Spray

The dollar store sold spray bottles with fans on them. Even when the water got warm, misting my face and neck, then fanning myself felt great. This was another great way to keep cool.

4. Stay in the Shade

I follow the shade in my tent at all fests, as it’s not fun making people squint into the sun for the Caricatures. This is good advice on any sunny day, as you can get a pretty good tan even in the shade.

5. Find a Cool Place to Rest

When all else fails, shut down your booth and find a cool, preferably air conditioned place to rest. At worse, pack up and go home.

On day two of this fest, I was the only vendor tent for a large section of the show. Many were sensible business owners, like Mini Donuts, who went home. I felt I was obligated to be in my tent and watch an empty street that is usually packed full of happy people enjoying their weekend off. It was simply far too hot for people to come to an outdoor fest.

In future, know that your health is more important than a promise on paper. As my husband, a home renovator put it, “I would have sent my guys home. I won’t let them work in unsafe conditions. Show organizers shouldn’t want you to either.” On day three of the fest, I wasn’t thinking clearly, felt exhausted and was too nauseated to work.

Next time I’ll pack up during impossible temperatures and return later in the day when it’s cooled down.

Stay safe and enjoy your summer!
I’ll see you out there, sun and rain. But not 40º plus. 😉

More info on what to do in the heat:

https://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/pubs/gl_heat.php
https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/risk-management/pages/heatatwork.aspx

Copyright © 2016 Linda Laforge

Barrie | Ontario | Canada

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