Do Sauna Suits Really Work?

Southern Ontario suffered through one of the hottest, muggiest days in recent memory- and it looks like we'll be doing it all over again.

Ambulances shuttled a steady stream of people suffering from heat prostration and breathing difficulties to area hospitals and an air quality advisory issued by the province's environment ministry urged folks to cut down on their activities and remain indoors.

But some just couldn't. I've been in cooler saunas informed bike courier Don Dommi, 26, as he pedalled through downtown Toronto. I feel like I'm swimming through this stuff.

Then the question arises in everybody’s mind do sauna suit work in this type of temperature.The heat has caused problems for Ontario poultry producers. Maple Lodge Farms in Norval, outside Brampton, has lost 50,000 chickens since the heat wave began Thursday, a company official said. That's a lot - and we're not the only producers who are racking up numbers like this. The loss to Ontario poultry producers is going to reach hundreds of thousands of birds - chickens and turkeys - if things don't break soon.

Sizzling temperatures also forced hundreds of vehicles to the side of the road with overheated engines. “I haven't seen this many cars at the side of the road since the last big winter blizzard,” said one commuter.

The highest temperature of 36.8C at Pearson International Airport broke the 1953 record of 35C for the day, and when combined with the effects of the humid air created a humidex that made it feel like 49.6 degrees Celsius.On the old Fahrenheit scale that's 121.3 degrees - now that's hot.

“Hot. Sultry. Steamy. I'm running out of words to describe it,” said Environment Canada forecaster Bill Hepburn from his offices at Pearson.

It wasn't much better downtown. The day's high of 33.1C didn't quite topple the 1954 record of 33.9C for the day, but because of the humidity it felt like 45 degrees Celsius - and that's not taking into account the heat rising off baking streets and sidewalks.

But there is something to all that talk about nature's air conditioner. Thanks to the cooling effects of Lake Ontario, Toronto Island residents - without power for a 24-hour period after lightning knocked out their hydro lines Thursday evening - had a high of 28 C. Even with the humidex, it only felt a cool 39 degrees Celsius. It could have been worse - and in Windsor it was. The city became the Canadian hot spot for the day when the temperature peaked at 37.7C, and the humidity no doubt made it feel as if it was 50 degrees Celsius or more.

“At some point things are supposed to change,” said Environment Canada climatologist Bryan Smith. “And until they do, do nothing - do absolutely nothing.”