By Liliana Marquez
Last week, California has been experiencing a big increase in temperatures.
Summer might almost be over, but it seems as if the closer fall gets, the heat increases, causing people to get violent and aggressive. I always tend to pay attention to my surroundings.
Over the last days, I took some time to observe how people behaved under these extreme temperatures because I noticed that I felt cranky especially when the temperatures reached their peak.
One day at around 3 p.m. I walked into a grocery store located near my house.
I found the owner in a heated argument with a customer. My first thought was that maybe the customer had tried to steal something, but to my surprise, and that of the other customers at the store, the argument was due to the fact that the customer opened a bag of chips before paying for it.
Thinking about it, this was not a big deal. It would have been resolved without difficulty, but for some reason they were close to hitting each other.
I have known the owner of the store for about nine years and he is always in a good mood. That’s why I was so surprised.
As I walked home, I started thinking that it was possible that the heat was responsible for them to get angry and for my crankiness during these hot summer days. I’ve heard before that the weather affects people’s mood and I believe it now.
The heat not only gets people sweaty, tired and thirsty, but also affects the way they interpret another person’s points of view.
I commute to ELAC using public transportation and I also have noticed how people are even less polite on the bus during these heat waves. Even some of the bus drivers act aggressive when people ask them something, and yes, I’ve noticed that this happens more frequently when the temperatures increase.
According to “Eternal Sunshine of the Springtime Mind,” an article published by the Wall Street Journal in 2001, “Extreme temperatures make people hostile and aggressive, and violent crimes occur more often in the hotter months.” For this reason, people need to be careful, not only for the risks of dehydration, sunburns, etc, but also because these high temperatures can prompt them to be violent and do things that they wouldn’t do under pleasant weather conditions.
In an article published by South Source in 2011, a publication of Southern University, Tracy Siska, executive director of the Chicago Justice Project, A non-profit organization devoted to help people understand the criminal justice system said that there is a relation between violent crimes and high temperatures. “Violence increases, especially street violence, muggings, assaults, battery. Across the boards most crimes increase,” said Siska
Up to now there are still arguments on whether temperatures affect our mood or not.
From my personal point of view and after the things I’ve seen, I think there is a connection. The City of Los Angeles Emergency Management Department is trying to provide relief during these heat waves by using senior centers, libraries and recreation and parks centers as cooling centers.
The department also recommends to:
Drink a lot of fluids even if you are not thirsty.
Avoid the sun from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (This is the time when the heat is at its peak).
Wear light colored clothing when you are outdoors.
Reduce physical activity.
Maybe people can’t have the power to change the weather and make it rain, but they do have the power to learn more about the weather and how it affects their mood.
This will help them attack the problem and prevent violent things from happening.