By Marc Venema
As many Belleville residents try to escape the blistering temperatures on Tuesday, Avery Foley sweats over a hot grill in a chip truck.
“I’m not a very good judge but it’ll probably be a good 10 to 15 degrees hotter in here,” Foley said.
The summer student who works at Duffers Chip Wagon near the Belleville Canadian Tire parking lot said she loves her job but not the heat.
“It’s very humid, the fryers put off a lot of steam and it just adds to the humidity outside.”
Environment Canada forecasts temperatures to reach 34C in the friendly city Tuesday, with humidex values well into the 40’s.
Foley said although there’s no escaping the heat, there’s still a way to cool down.
“I eat freezies and drink water, and water, and more water.”
Close by to the chip truck is Danny Furtado, a Brampton area painter who is currently painting the Canadian Tire in Belleville.
Furtado has been painting outdoors for many years and said he’s used to blistering conditions.
“It’s been really hot but we learn to cope with it because that’s what we do for a living.”
He said the heat means more breaks and more fluids.
“Drink a lot of water, stay refreshed, take a few breaks here and there where it’s needed, and we get by just fine.”
Dr. Richard Schabas, medical officer of health at Hastings & Prince Edward Counties Health Unit, said keeping hydrated is key.
“I don’t want to alarm people but the fact of the matter is every year people die from getting overheated,” Schabas said.
“The major problem with the extreme heat is when people are inadequately hydrated.”
He said those who are most vulnerable are the very young, and very old.
“Babies and toddlers can’t tell people when they’re thirsty so they can get overheated.
“Also the very old, because they also suffer from other health problems which make them more vulnerable to the effects of the heat.”
He said caregivers of both the young and the old need to make sure they pay close attention during days with high temperatures.
“If you have air conditioning where you can go, that’s great, if not, stay in the shade, wear cool clothing, wear a hat, and above all, keep yourself well hydrated.”
Another problem in the region this summer is the lack of water. Quinte Conservation officials are concerned over water levels.
“Pretty well every river in our watershed is below normal for this time of the year,” said General Manager Terry Murphy.
With no rain in the forecast, Murphy is hoping local residents will watch how they use their water.
“We are trying to encourage people to conserve water,” Murphy said. “We are asking people to cut their water supply by 10 per cent.”
Murphy said that can be done by cutting back on things like washing your car, cutting back on shower times, and watering your lawn.
“Don’t water your lawn, having a green lawn is not near as important as having drinking water.”
The long, hot drought is also a major concern for local firefighters.
“It’s so dry that conditions now are almost instant,” said Dave MacMullen, Belleville’s senior fire prevention officer. “You’re dealing with vegetation that’s almost like a paper material.
“It’s not going to take much of a spark or a flame to ignite it and get out of control.”
Burn bans have been put in place in Belleville, Quinte West, and Stirling-Rawdon.
Belleville Deputy Chief Bruce Greatrix said whether crews are fighting a grass fire or a structural fire, rehab centres are set up somewhere near the blaze where firefighters can cool off.
“Some place where they can get out of the sun, get the bunker gear off to get themselves cooled down,” Greatrix said. “Keeping themselves hydrated is the key.”
Greatrix said the firefighters are monitored to make sure they’re not suffering from heat stroke or other heat related illness.
For those who are looking to beat the heat, cooling centres have been set up in Belleville and Trenton. Quinte West City Hall is open until 8 p.m. Tuesday night, and the Quinte Sport and Wellness Centre in Belleville opens at 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. each day until further notice.