Remember when you wanted warmer weather?

Published 11:00 pm Friday, June 27, 2014

Summer officially arrived June 21.

Now we are awaiting the dog days of summer, which will begin July 3.

Beginning in early July and ending in mid-August is a 40-day period known as dog days. The wise astrologers of ancient Greece named this period when they learned that Sirius, the dog star, rose with the sun on those 40 days.

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According to old-timers, the position of the dog star has a profound effect on the weather. The fact that this is not a scientific truth doesn’t in any way take away from the legends surrounding the season.

Actually, dog days just happen to coincide with the very hot days of the American summer, and since we always must have something to blame our miseries on, dog days becomes the goat.

Whatever the explanation, it is during dog days that bee stings appear to be more painful, poison oak more irritating, and all types of infection more dangerous.

It is a time when, as the old folks used to say, “Any ache or pain is more painful and damaging to the human body if it strikes during the period of dog days.”

Some blistering temperatures have already arrived ahead of dog days. We have already experienced some 90-degree temperatures and sweltering heat. Weather reports in June have already carried such words and phrases as heat wave, severe thunderstorms and temperatures in the 90s.

Obviously, the summertime heat can be good for growing gardens, playing in pools and other outdoor activities we look forward to all the year. Remember last January and February, when the temperature hovered around zero for days? Then, we were wishing for the hot days of summer.

Just as surely as the dead of winter snowstorms make us long for the hot days of summer, by the time September and October come along, most folks are happily anticipating the coming of frost.

We must keep in mind that people and animals cannot languish in the extreme heat that summer brings — particularly the most vulnerable segments of our population, like the young and the elderly.

Being safety conscious is the best way to beat the heat. The National Weather Service offers the following tips:

• Slow down. Reduce, eliminate or reschedule strenuous activities until the coolest time of the day. Children, seniors and anyone with health problems should stay in the coolest available place, not necessarily indoors.

• Dress for summer. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing to reflect heat and sunlight.

• Put less fuel on your inner fires. Foods, like meat and other proteins that increase metabolic heat production, also increase water loss.

• Drink plenty of water, non-alcoholic and decaffeinated fluids. Your body needs water to keep cool. Drink plenty of fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney or liver disease, or are on fluid restrictive diets or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a physician before increasing their consumption of fluids. Do not drink alcoholic beverages and limit caffeinated beverages.

• During excessive heat periods, spend more time in air-conditioned places. Air conditioning in homes and other buildings markedly reduces danger from the heat. If you cannot afford an air conditioner, go to a library, store or other location with air conditioning for part of the day.

• Don’t get too much sun. Sunburn reduces your body’s ability to dissipate heat.

• Do not take salt tablets unless specified by a physician.

Now that summer is here, we say enjoy it. Take a splash, enjoy a picnic, or go camping. Treat yourself to a cold slice of watermelon, a glass of cold lemonade, or an ice cream cone.

One last sobering thought: It’s only 178 days until Christmas, and even fewer until the first frost!