SACRAMENTO -- The sun baking the valley is expected to hover at 100 degrees or more today before slightly cooling the rest of the week. It's just hot enough to make us think about how the heat affects our lives in ways that might surprise you.
TIRES GAIN WEIGHT Yes, it's swimsuit season, but your tires aren't taking notice. Tires can gain up to 7 pounds when they heat up, Advanced Tire Services owner Norm Madison said.
Despite the bloating, Madison said most tires are underinflated and the additional weight is not a cause for concern. Instead, a lot of his summer business comes from radiators and water pumps failing from the extreme heat. He warned that heat can push batteries on the verge of failing over the edge and old tires can shred from the warmth.
ATHLETES' THRESHOLD It's not just the heat but also the poor air quality in the valley that can affect the ability of athletes to execute a proper workout.
"I tell people to work out in the mornings and evenings, and the morning always is preferable because of the better air quality," said John Ebster, physical therapy assistant at Air Physical Therapy of Modesto. "When it's 3 or 4 o'clock and it's still 103 or 104 degrees, you probably should skip that day of training. There are indications of heat problems and lack of oxygenation when you train in those conditions where you can be sick for several days afterward. So skipping one day because it's too warm or the air quality is poor is better than missing three or four days of training because you're sick.
"Also, I've seen that athletes who have been overcome once by the heat or by poor air quality become susceptible to falling victim to those conditions again."
ANIMAL SENSITIVITY Certain animals are more susceptible than others to heat extremes. Panting might not be a soothing noise, but it's the dog version of sweating and necessary for them to cool down.
Dogs with smashed faces, such as bulldogs, pugs, Boston terriers and Frenchies, can't breathe as well in the heat because of the way their nasal passages are formed. Pet owners should keep them inside and ensure they have water to drink.
TREE BRANCHES BREAK The "snap, crackle, pop" sound has moved out of your cereal bowl and onto your tree branches. Extreme heat combined with a lack of rain can lead to tree branches breaking and falling, according to Sean Barry, a spokesman for the Arbor Day Foundation.
A tree normally sucks up water from the ground, but when the soil dries, a tree is left to hold onto its reserves and becomes heavier, and branches can break.
DRUGS AND HEAT Beware! Blazing temperatures mixed with alcohol, diuretics, beta blockers, anxiety medicines and tranquilizers can be dangerous, even deadly.
Psychotropic drugs and alcohol can make people unaware of how hot they are, while beta blockers can slow heart rates and diuretics and alcohol can lead to dehydration, said Calvin Hirsch, a University of California Health System doctor.
Three inmates taking psychotropic drugs died of hyperthermia at Vacaville Medical Facility in 1991. Their deaths spotlighted how such drugs make people unaware of dangerously high body temperatures.
HOT CELL PHONES The sun can melt your ice cream and fry your eggs, and it also can destroy your cell phone. Cell phones should not be left in direct sunlight or be placed in car trunks for long periods. Heat can leave phones, as intricate electronic instruments, permanently inoperable.
CURES PLANT PEST PROBLEMS Say goodbye to snails, slugs and other slimy creatures lingering around plants. Extreme heat sends them crawling and eliminates a lot of fungus, said Debbie Woodruff, the owner of Fair Oaks Boulevard Nursery. But pumpkins, tomatoes and cucumbers flourish. In high heat, the nursery waters two to three times daily.
POOLS GET THIRSTY, TOO When temperatures soar, crystal-blue pools are more likely to turn green. Algae starts spreading and growing under the baking sun "like a greenhouse," making pools require more chlorine, according to Jim Veach of Best Pool Supply Inc. A small temperature burst from 84 degrees to 90 degrees will make a pool need almost double its amount of chlorine, he said.
HEAT-SAFE SLIDES Metal slides in playgrounds are now rare sights. Today's playground equipment is less heat-sensitive, and many playgrounds are built in shaded areas and under tree canopies, recreation experts say.
INSECTS TAKE OVER It's not a bird. It's not a plane. It's a swarm of insects that has grown during the summer months. When temperatures hit 80 to 100 degrees, insects go through their life cycles more quickly, UC Davis entomology Professor Lynn Kimsey said. Larvae quickly reach adulthood within a week or two, and female houseflies can lay 500 eggs in their lifetimes, which is why house flies become problematic in late summer and early fall, Kimsey said.
Modesto Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek contributed to this report.