Hellooooo Summer! The calendar is now reflecting our weather! Look for “Excessive Heat Warnings” coming soon! Sun safety is ever-prudent now.
I’m a Desert Dweller
Hence, accustomed to the “early to bed, early to rise” lifestyle…completing my outdoor activities before the scorching sun gets too high in the sky. And I’ve never even come close to experiencing a heat-related illness beyond blistering sunburn – even that was decades ago. As I’ve aged, I’ve evolved to respect the sun.
I’m Also a Hiker
And within the hiking community being “Bada$$” is a badge of honor! There are even degrees of “Bada$$”: A, B, C, D…”A” being the most advanced. I suppose there could be an unofficial “A+” that would encompass hotshots and SAR Volunteers. I’m a solid “B”, myself.
Years ago a record-breaking heat was in the 10-day forecast. We’re talking nearly 120 degrees in Tucson, Arizona. This weather event was all over the news for a week. Lots of warnings, and lots of precautionary advice to stay indoors. No excuses for being caught off-guard during that inferno. (Despite all of the warnings, six, including some tourists, died during that heat wave.)
But Staying Indoors is the Antithesis of “Bada$$”!!
I had every intention of hiking that record-breaking day, BUT I would do it at my normal “crack-of-dawn” time.
And I did!
I chose a familiar trail, so as to prevent getting lost and delayed getting back to the trailhead. I chose a trail that minimized the chance of rolling – or worse – an ankle, being unable to get back to the trailhead timely, or at all. And as usual, carried lots of water in my backpack.
And it went just fine! I didn’t have to take a break from my hiking passion, AND I get to tell my fellow hikers that I’m so “Bada$$” that I even hiked on the hottest day in modern Tucson history!
I just leave out the part about being finished at sunrise!
But seriously, it bears repeating some summer safety tidbits.
Do not mess around with this! Heat Stroke kills! If you see RED, hot, non-sweating skin, you cool that body down STAT! And I’m talking as an outsider-looking-in because if YOU are the one experiencing Heat Stroke, you’re probably not going to have the wherewithal to apply self-care. Use a hose, a sponge, wet towels or sheets, and fan vigorously to cause evaporative cooling relief. They tell us NOT to dunk a heat stroke victim into a pool or lake, because that can be too jarring and cause significant changes in blood pressure.
Call 911, and while you’re waiting for the paramedics, keep the victim engaged – do not allow fainting. And if the victim can keep it down, small sips of cool – not cold – water will aid in recovery. Cold water, and guzzling water, will be too jarring and could cause shock. It should go without saying that the victim should not sip alcohol or caffeinated beverages while waiting for the paramedics.
In summary –
Cool quickly without immersion
Offer small, cool sips of water
Keep the victim engaged
Though not as serious as Heat Stroke, it IS a precursor to Heat Stroke if not treated and should not be taken lightly. You might be able to apply self-care in this situation.
How Do You Discern Heat Exhaustion From Just Being Hot?
Your skin will be pale, clammy, and profusely sweating.
In addition, you’re just not going to feel very good. You’re apt to be dizzy or faint, perhaps nauseous as well. You might feel some mild physical pain like headache or cramps, maybe even feel weak and lethargic. You may be palpitating and your breathing may be labored.
When we’re busy it’s easy to wave our hand with an “Ah, Pshaw!” and dismiss any one of these symptoms.
But Listen to Your Body!
Immediately drink some water or a good, quality, electrolyte replacement beverage. Get in from out of the sun and into the shade, or an air-conditioned environment, and REST. Better still if you’re near a shower or bathtub, or even a sink where you can take a sponge bath. If you still feel “icky” after 30 minutes, you’re advised to seek medical attention.
You can take steps to prevent Heat Exhaustion. You can hydrate 2 hours before working or exercising outside, and again right before you start, and continue every 20 minutes regardless of whether you’re thirsty.
And always, hot weather or cool, working outdoors or indoors, exerting or sedentary, when your urine is dark, HYDRATE! You want pale-colored urine.
Enjoy your summer! Be safe!
Masters Degreed. Expert Certified Endermologie Practitioner
In continuous specialized service since 2005