By Marianne Scott Rushville Republican
---- — The Dog Days of Summer – just one of those sayings that comes to mind when summer heat and humidity seem unbearable. Add to that a few days of faux fall and the excessive heat seems even more intense!
In ancient times, when the night sky was unobscured by artificial lights and smog different groups of peoples in different parts of the world drew images in the sky by “connecting the dots” of stars. The images drawn were dependent upon the culture: The Chinese saw different images than the Native Americans, who saw different pictures than the Europeans. These star pictures are now called constellations, and the constellations that are now mapped out in the sky come from our European ancestors.
They saw images of bears, (Ursa Major and Ursa Minor), twins, (Gemini), a bull, (Taurus), and others, including dogs, (Canis Major and Canis Minor). The brightest of the stars in Canis Major (the big dog) is Sirius, which also happens to be the brightest star in the night sky. In fact, it is so bright that the ancient Romans thought that the earth received heat from it. Look for it in the southern sky (viewed from northern latitudes) during January. In the summer, however, Sirius, the “dog star,” rises and sets with the sun. During late July Sirius is in conjunction with the sun, and the ancients believed that its heat added to the heat of the sun, creating a stretch of hot and sultry weather. They named this period of time, from 20 days before the conjunction to 20 days after, “dog days” after the dog star.
Now add classrooms of students to this weather mixture and you have health and wellness issues that must be monitored. All Rush County Schools are air conditioned which certainly eases the comfort levels of heat and humidity. For our elementary schools, outside recess can be particularly challenging and caution is always the word. Here are a few of the recommendations Rush County School Teacher utilize as they consider outside physical activity for their students:
• Lightweight, light colored, loose clothing
• Well ventilated areas
• Frequent fluids (water mainly)
• Don’t drink liquids that contain caffeine or large amounts of sugar---these actually cause you to lose more body fluid.
• Avoid very cold drinks because they can cause stomach cramps.
• If outside, cautious physical activity (most schools recess is 20 minutes or less).
• Avoid heavy meals.
And finally, ENJOY these last few days of summer. Before we know it, snow shovels will find their way to your front porch!
Marianne Scott is the Legacy Fund director/Information officer with Rush County Schools.