Nova Scotia

Hot enough for ya? People in Sydney say yes

High temperatures have forced the main library branch in Sydney, N.S., to close two days in a row and have prompted some businesses to shut down in the hottest part of day.

Main library branch and some shops close after Environment Canada issues heat warning

The thermometer on a deck in North Sydney, N.S., went over 45 C in direct sunlight on Wednesday, which is why much of the province was under a heat warning from Environment Canada. (Gary Mansfield/CBC)

Hot enough for ya? This week, most people in Sydney, N.S., are saying yes.

Much of the province has been under a heat warning from Environment Canada, with the daytime temperature reaching 31 C and the humidex value reaching 38 or more.

The high heat has forced the McConnell Memorial Library in Sydney to close two days in a row and it has prompted some businesses to shut down in the hottest part of day.

Regional librarian Faye MacDougall said the main branch in Sydney was built in 1959 and it's time for a modern building.

Regional librarian Faye MacDougall says high heat and humidity can affect staff and can be harmful for some of the print collections. (Gary Mansfield/CBC)

"We do not have air conditioning in the library and today ... at close to 10:30 in the morning, we have already reached 36 degrees in the building."

According to policy, that's when the library closes for health and safety.

MacDougall said the air temperature inside the old building is frustrating for staff, but it's also unfortunate for locals and tourists who want to come in and use the services.

Heat affects people, collections

"The building generally does not cool down well overnight," she said.

"So, if we get a number of warm days in a row, then the building just does not lose the heat through the evening hours. So, the next day we start at a temperature that is warmer than we started at the day before."

The heat and humidity are also not good for the library's collections, said MacDougall. Some of the historical documents, books and records date back to the 1800s and are one-of-a-kind.

Leeann Flynn, and employee at the Gala Re clothing store in Sydney, says she had to close on Tuesday because it was too hot for customers and not good for staff. (Gary Mansfield/CBC)

Leeann Flynn, an employee at the Gala Re used clothing store in Sydney, said the shop had to shut down for part of the day on Tuesday.

"Yesterday, business was not so good," she said. "[It was] so hot people didn't really want to shop, and so hot in the building that it wasn't even worth our health and safety to remain."

On Wednesday, the air conditioning was cranked and fans were added to improve air circulation.

Madeline Terry, a customer, said she had had enough.

"I am not enjoying the heat," she said. "It's just terrible. It's definitely scary."

Keagan MacEachern, a lifeguard at Mira Gut beach, says the temperature was too high even for those enjoying the beach. (Gary Mansfield/CBC)

Keagan MacEachern, a lifeguard at Mira Gut beach, said the heat has been "brutal."

"I work at a beach and we're literally sitting there dying, because it's 36 degrees, or feels like 36," he said. "It's quite hot."

Dr. Chris Milburn, chief of emergency medicine at the Cape Breton regional hospital, said the ER does see an increase in patients when the temperature gets extreme.

However, he said, "not as many as you'd think, because people do tend to be sensible and they try to stay where it's cool, or get in the water at the beach to keep cool."

Dr. Chris Milburn, chief of emergency medicine for the eastern zone, says Cape Breton Regional Hospital is over capacity partly due to a pay dispute over inpatient care. (Gary Mansfield/CBC)

Milburn said heat-related admissions tend to be older people who can't adapt as well, or younger people who have simply pushed themselves too hard.

"It's pretty unusual, but people do get that hot that they need our help," he said.

Milburn said people can easily get dehydrated, even if they are not feeling sweaty. He recommends people drink lots of water, stay out of the sun and take it easy.

Cooling station open

Nelson Scott, president of the North Sydney Firefighters Club, said volunteers opened the hall as a cooling zone.

"I mean, the humidex is up in the low 40s, that I'm hearing, so we have water on hand here," he said.

"We're going to give people water who come in thirsty and keep them hydrated the best we can, and keep looking after people."


With files from Gary Mansfield


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