— It’s so hot in Hendricks County that a chicken could lay an omelet. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but it is really hot.
Sweltering temperatures reaching triple digits and potentially setting records in various parts of the state have swept across the heartland, causing concerns both health and lifestyle wise.
According to the National Weather Service, heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States, eclipsing more deaths than floods, lightning, tornados, and hurricanes.
Farmers are taking the brunt of the weather, but it’s hard to tell how much it will end up effecting the crops.
“It’s definitely a concern,” said Jon Cain, educator for the Purdue Extension of Hendricks County. “If you look back to 1988, that was the worst and there was about a 33 percent loss of yield. There’s a possibility of bad yield conduction when you get into a serious drought and we’re teetering on the edge.”
Cain said crops, in spite of the weather, are holding up well so far.
“Beans are flipping their leaves up, so they don’t photosynthesize as much, so they’re not generating as much need for water,” he said. “But plants are taking measures to protect against not having as much water. If you have a combination of dry weather and hot weather, it can exacerbate the situation and cause problems with pollination for various reasons with corn. If you get poor pollination, that’s a yield reducing factor. It’s anybody’s guess as to how well our corn can keep on going through the next two to three weeks.”
From there, it will be more possible to understand the full effects that the dry, hot weather has had on crops. Soybeans though, offered Cain, have more flexibility to make it through these kinds of weather patterns as they can flower later into the season and recover more easily than corn, which once it pollinates “you’ve got whatever you’ve got.”
“They’re (farmers) pretty anxious to get substantial rains,” Cain added. “These little pop up showers can help a little bit, but it doesn’t get the job done. We need a good rain.”
Anyone with pets should be especially mindful of their care in temperatures like we’ve been having. There are precautions that pet owners can take to make their pets more comfortable, even if the animals need to go outside for walks.
“If you’re going to walk your pet, do leash walking,” advised Denise Thomas of the Brownsburg Animal Clinic. “Don’t let them run a lot. Take short walks in extreme heat as they can overheat pretty quickly because of all the hair they have.”
Ideally, she added, animals should be walked in the early mornings or late evenings after the sun goes down, especially when temperatures are escalating near 100 degrees.
Thomas said there are signs that pet owners need to watch for.
“They’ll show excessive panting, acting a little bit lethargic, possibly vomiting,” she explained. “Give them extra water throughout the day and make sure that water is always available to them.”
In addition, she said, certain types of pets will be more susceptible to the heat than others.
“Usually larger dogs with darker fur seem to be more susceptible,” Thomas said. “That’s not to say that light haired dogs don’t overheat though.”
And for people, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security offers advice for beating the heat. The department recommends slowing down from a normal pace, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding carbonated beverages. Drawing shades or blinds and staying in air-conditioned environments, even for short periods of time, will also help.
For those who must be outdoors, wearing sunglasses, proper SPF sunscreen, and loose-fitting, light colored clothing can mitigate some of the damage.
Health officials say that animals, young children, and the elderly tend to be the most susceptible to severe heat.
And extremely hot weather brings other ill effects too.
According to FBI crime statistics, as temperatures rise, so too does an increase in violent acts with more crimes reported in July and August, typically the hottest months of the year, than any other period.
“It is called heat aggravation,” says Jerry McKean, a Ball State University criminal justice professor. “It’s hot outside. It’s humid, and it doesn’t take much to push people over the edge. When it gets hot, people tend to lose their tempers a little bit more quickly.”
McKean offers that some of that is due to the fact that teenagers are out of school and youths are more likely than other age groups to be offenders or victims. He said also that added vacationing leads to vulnerable homes and businesses, and the increased hours that patrons are out in social climates and venues also likely plays a role.
All in all, McKean said, rising temperatures and rising tempers seem to go hand in hand.
For more tips on how to deal with extreme heat, visit the website at getprepared.in.gov. Cain says that resources are available for green and livestock producers where they can gain further information via the Corny News Network through Purdue by going to kingcorn.org/cafe/drought or drought updates are available through the Indiana State Climate Office at Purdue by visiting iclimate.org/.