July 22, 2014

Sun Stroke

The weather map these last days has been very red, indeed. It looks like the whole world is in the red zone, and our national weather forecasting institute, SMHI, has issued a warning concerning unusually high and potentially dangerous heat levels in the north of Sweden. Here, that is. Honestly, I can´t remember there ever being a heatwave of this magnitude since I moved here some two decades ago. With temperatures over 30 C/85 F every day, at least no one can complain about there being no proper summer! Some complain about the heat, of course, but most manage and even enjoy it. Some think it silly to issue warnings, considering it´s fairly moderate temperatures on an international scale, but while many Swedes are well-traveled, many are not, and as they say on the SMHI website, "Sweden may have a relavitely cold climate, but the population´s sensitivity to heat is also higher. We have defined our warning criteria to suit our inhabitants." (my translation). They issue warnings when the prognosis says the temperature will be over 26 C/79 F three days in a row, so that those who work in nursing and hospitals will be able to prepare. An article in the daily local paper says that mortality rates are 10% higher in the heat, and what happens a lot is that people sit in the sun (Scandinavians love sunbathing) and don´t drink enough.

No worries about the mum-in-law, though. She loves the heat, and worries about her home help people, pressing them to drink several glasses of water, juice and whatnot while they are with her. That´s her thing, really, nothing cheers her up more than being of help to others. She is overall in much better shape and now gets a weekly checkup at the hospital, as a "day-patient". No more acute rushes to the ER, or so we hope.

I had sunstroke once, as a kid on vacation with my parents in Italy. We were out walking in the sun during lunchtime (heading out for ice cream, I think) and I remember falling into the ditch. There wasn´t much talk about drinking enough water that I recall (it was more like "don´t drink so much, you´ll just have to go to the bathroom again and it´ll be such a hassle"), but after that incident my parents bought sunhats for us kids. I had to buy one for adults, as my head even then was unusually large.

I look grumpy on all snaps from that vacation - heat and sun never was my thing, and the ideal at the time was to soak oneself with oil and bask in the sun until almost black. Was there even such a thing as sunblock? My mother and my siblings all take sun well and tan beautifully, but my father burns easily and tans slower and I take after him. I was actually reproached for being pale, like it was a character flaw. It was often suggested that I should just pull myself together and "train" my body to tan. Luckily, the culture has changed since, and people know a lot more about how dangerous the sun can be. Thank god for science!


  1. It makes a big difference what you're used to. We've been having record "cold" here for July. Highs in the 70s and lows in the 60sF. Around here the saying is "If you don't like the weather, just wait a minute" and we're back up to highs in the 90s. I've never had sun or heat stroke or had a serious sunburn. I've been lucky.

    1. I think you can get used to anything, as long as you respect your needs. The Mediterraneans are wise with their siestas - we should learn from them. (Though I have read that international corporate culture are trying to do away with siestas; the Evil Empire...)

    2. Maybe re-naming it a "power nap" would increase its acceptance among the corporatists ;)