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Dangers of 'dog days': Reminders for the hottest spells

Finland’s forecasts are currently full of sultry or even hazardously high temperatures, which brings with it certain risks that Finns will do well to remember.

Ihmisiä uimarannalla.
Don't forget to properly deal with food or with cuts and scrapes in hot weather, doctors say. Image: Terri Niemi / Yle

Although the cold stone of Jaakko’s Day may have been thrown, summer is not yet showing signs of slowing down. Serious heat waves are uncommon in Finland, leading to warnings by physicians of heightened bacterial risks.

Infection specialist, doctor Pekka Suomalainen of the Southern Karelia social and healthcare district warns Finns to bear two things in mind especially.

The first relates to the storing of food during heat waves.

“Food should never be left out on the table for too long in weather this hot and muggy,” Suomalainen says. “It’s the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.”

The hottest days tend to show as spikes in food poisoning cases. The Finnish Food Safety Authority (Evira) also reminds citizens that the danger zone for bacteria that cause food poisoning is in the wide range of 6–60 degrees Celsius.

’Rot month’ aptly named

These so-called dog days were known in Ancient Greece as well as here in Finland, and the Finnish translation of this hottest season – mätäkuu, or rot-month – is not an exaggeration. Taking care of cuts and lacerations is especially important during heat waves.

“There are always bacteria present on the skin,” Suomalainen reminds us. “Microbes find their way into cuts and wounds, and during hot weather they can overrun them and cause an infection.”

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