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Personal Best: A favourite Canadian topic

Is there a subject dearer to the hearts of Canadians than the weather? Ask anyone to name the capitals of the provinces and most can’t do it but ask what the weather forecast is and nine out of 10 will tell you to the finest detail. Even be glad to argue about who heard what and when that would happen.

We are preoccupied with the weather. Not that we shouldn’t be, given the current heat wave, but it seems that every year at about this time we are amazed and surprised at the high temperatures and those TV announcers are even more amazed as they repeat over and over again how hot it is in the Okanagan. Well guess what, folks, we live in a semi-arid environment, indeed the South Okanagan of British Columbia is one of the most unique and endangered ecological regions in North America and is Canada’s only “arid” desert environment.

My greatest concern when it does get this hot is the people who live on the street. They can stay in a shelter at night but must vacate early in the morning. They have to find shade and water during the hottest time of the day or they will suffer heat stroke. Thank goodness for the Mission and the many shady parks in the city. Seniors without air conditioning, too, are in danger when the temperature climbs. Although some senior centres offer a cool place to sit and avoid the worst of the heat of the day, it must be hell at night as it doesn’t cool off much. I’m sure glad I don’t talk about the weather.

I want to tell you about a Canadian web site I found recently that allows you to assess your health risks and provides calculators that predict your life expectancy, future hospital use and salt intake. The organization, Project Big Life, is supported by funders and collaborators including University of Toronto, University of Ottawa, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation, so has good credentials. To calculate your risks visit their website at  www.projectbiglife.ca. While raising our consciousness about our health, this site is also fun. According to my calculations I am going to live until I am 93 and there is an 83.9 per cent chance I will be dancing at my grandkids’ weddings. Now I can make positive plans. However, it also predicted my biggest risk as smoking, which I don’t do, so how reliable is that?

There are many other helpful health sites such as www.healthlinkbc.ca. This is a B.C. website where you can get trusted information at your fingertips by web or by phoning 8-1-1. You will find medically-approved information on more than 5,000 health topics, symptoms, medications and tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Search the online directory to find health services near you like available doctors, hospital waits, etc. You can also call 8-1-1 from anywhere in B.C. to speak with a nurse day or night. On weekdays, you can speak to a dietitian about nutrition and at night pharmacists are available to answer your medication questions. This service is a godsend for many people with medical questions.

If you owe money and are late paying your income tax you are charged interest. What about the hundreds of taxpayers who returned their forms on time and are still waiting for their rebates? Should the government be paying us interest? I wish. Apparently because so many returns were sent in by post and not electronically as expected, the system is clogged and returns are not likely to be coming back until the middle or last of  August. So much for efficiency.

If you have comments or questions, phone 250-542-7928 or e-mail blackmail1@telus.net

Pat Black writes about issues of concern to seniors in the North Okanagan. Her column appears every other Sunday.

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