Staying Safe & Cool Because It’s Hot

It’s hot out there. In this article, we’ll talk about staying safe and cool while hiking. The summer of 2023 has turned out to be incredibly hot all over the globe, prompting concerns about heat-related issues during outdoor activities such as running and hiking. Globally, June was the hottest June on record. Then July was the hottest July on record. While August has cooled slightly in the United States, it appears that we’re gearing up for more heat to close out the rest of the month. Just this past week Phoenix, Arizona tied a record at 115 degrees and Helena, Montana set a new record of 102 degrees. So like I said, it’s hot out there.

The heat has greatly impacted outdoor activities and lead to tragedy. The New York Times reported that seven hikers have died so far due to heat-related illnesses while hiking this summer in the Southwest. These have been in state and national parks as well, not as remote as they could be (here are some tips on staying safe in the wilderness).

The Impact of Heat on the Body: Our bodies rely on a delicate balance of temperature regulation. Engaging in outdoor activities under the scorching sun can lead to various heat-related issues, ranging from mild discomfort to severe health risks. It’s important to be aware of these issues to recognize their symptoms and take proactive steps to mitigate them.

Common Heat-Related Issues

  1. Heat Exhaustion: This occurs when the body overheats, often due to inadequate hydration and prolonged exposure to high temperatures. Symptoms include excessive sweating, rapid pulse, dizziness, nausea, and weakness.
  2. Heat Stroke: The most severe heat-related condition, heat stroke requires immediate medical attention. It’s characterized by a dangerously high body temperature, confusion, hot and dry skin, rapid breathing, and even loss of consciousness.
  3. Dehydration: Inadequate fluid intake can lead to dehydration, causing fatigue, dizziness, dry mouth, and decreased urine output. Severe dehydration can result in organ failure and heat-related illnesses.
  4. Heat Cramps: Intense physical activity in hot conditions can cause muscle cramps due to electrolyte imbalances resulting from excessive sweating.

Here Are Some Tips For Staying Safe & Cool

  1. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water before, during, and after outdoor activities. Avoid excessive caffeine (I know, I know-I live on coffee too) and alcohol, as they contribute to dehydration.
  2. Plan and Pace Yourself: Schedule outdoor activities during cooler hours, such as early morning or late afternoon. Take frequent breaks and rest in the shade to avoid overexertion.
  3. Dress Wisely: Wear lightweight, breathable clothing that covers your skin to protect it from the sun. Don’t forget a wide-brimmed hat and UV-protective sunglasses.
  4. Use Sunscreen: Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
  5. Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to how your body is responding to the heat. If you or your companions experience symptoms of heat-related issues, take action immediately.
  6. Know the Signs: Be familiar with the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or don’t improve after taking preventive measures.

Staying Safe

As outdoor adventurers, it’s our responsibility to enjoy the beauty of nature while also prioritizing our safety and well-being. If we understand the risks associated with heat-related issues during activities and take appropriate precautions, we can continue to explore, hike, bike, and adventure with confidence. Remember, preparation and awareness are key to ensuring that the heat doesn’t dampen our outdoor spirits. Stay safe and stay cool! Be sure to sign up for our email list.

References

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/summer-of-record-breaking-heat-paints-story-of-a-warming-world-scientists-say

https://www.forbes.com/sites/brianbushard/2023/08/15/record-breaking-summer-seattle-portland-break-daily-high-temperature-records-after-hottest-july-ever/?sh=7438298425bf

Heat Stroke While Hiking: 7 Ways To Prevent It

Image by Franz Bachinger from Pixabay

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Interested in some editorial content? Check out this article I published on the effects of climate change on outdoor recreation. It’s a sobering reality we have to confront.

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