Have you ever heard the saying that “its hot enough to cook an egg on the sidewalk?” Of course you have, who hasn’t? “How many kids, hearing it, actually try? Most likely they end up with a mess resembling scrambled eggs more than one sunny-side up. So what’s the problem? An egg needs a temperature of 158°F to become firm. In order to cook, proteins in the egg must denature (modify), then coagulate, and that won’t happen until the temperature rises enough to start and maintain the process.” Temperatures on the sidewalk only get to around 145°F. The experts say a car hood would be the best conductor of heat—but we certainly wouldn’t recommend it!
Well Chicagoans will get the opportunity to test that theory by the end of the week as forecasters predict some scorchers in the upper nineties. Regardless, if you plan to go out and buy a dozen eggs or stay inside, here are some tips that will keep you safe.
- Drink plenty of water. And avoid caffeine and alcohol which will dehydrate you.
- Stay in the shade when possible, and avoid prolonged sun exposure during the hottest part of the day, between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
- Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must engage in strenuous activity, do so during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.
- Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles. Temperatures inside a closed vehicle can reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit (F) within minutes. Exposure to such high temperatures can kill in minutes.
Other cool tips can be found at www.chicagoredcross.org/heatwave
For those who want omelets, visit http://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/friedegg.html
-Erica Liss is an intern with the American Red Cross. She has a culinary background but has never fried an egg on a sidewalk. Yet.