By Josh Boyd
During the peak of summer’s heat, there is little reprieve to be had. Anyone who spends their days in the outdoors is forced to contend with the sauna-like swelter that is all too common during this time of the year, as the sun’s beaming rays bear down relentlessly.
For die-hard outdoorsmen and women across the land, this can present challenging conditions, to say the least. From fishing to hanging treestands, virtually any activity taking place in the woods or on the water takes on some relative degree of discomfort.
However, the effects of this annual heatwave run far deeper than the sweat upon one’s brow. If not adequately prepared for these less than favorable conditions, dehydration, heat exhaustion, and even heat stroke can sneak up on the unsuspecting.
The following precautions will assist you in beating the heat this summer and will keep you safe from the debilitating effects of overheating.
Drink More Water Than You Think Necessary
We have all heard the virtues of adequate water intake relayed time and time again. However, few often realize just how much water is needed in order to stay hydrated when faced with oppressive heat.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the average adult should consume between eight and ten cups of water on any given day to stay adequately hydrated. This does not factor in temperature extremes or strenuous physical activity. Therefore, this number can be substantially higher when attempting to ward off dehydration when the mercury skyrockets.
When heading out for an excursion of any type during the warmest portion of the year, it is always advisable to pack more water than you could possibly anticipate consuming. It is quite handy to have a 1-gallon jug of water present in your vehicle or aboard your boat, with a couple of additional bottles of water on standby, should a trek of any kind be necessary.
Dress for Success
Many problems can arise for those venturing out into the heat, before ever leaving the house. When spending long hours outdoors during the warmest months of the year, your choice of clothing can be make or break. If improper clothing is chosen for the events of the day, difficulty can set in quite rapidly.
Whenever possible, wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing to maximize breathability. Doing so not only maximizes airflow, but minimizes sweating, which in turn prevents excess fluid loss. Light color clothing is also a wise choice, as lighter colors reflect the sun’s rays, as opposed to absorbing them.
It can also be helpful to don some form of headwear when faced with above-average temperatures. A hat often works well to keep the sun from your face, thereby minimizing UV ray transmission to the skin. Wide brim hats of any type work especially well for this purpose.
Additionally, the use of specialized cooling cloths has become relatively popular in recent years. These cloths can be soaked in cool water ahead of leaving the house, and once rung out, retain moisture content for a lengthy period of time to aid in cooling.
Never Pass on Sunscreen
The use of high SPF sunscreen is the perfect tool for protecting yourself from exposure to UV rays transmitted by the sun. This greatly reduces the risk of becoming sunburnt, which would otherwise be of high probability, even during somewhat overcast days.
The level of protection offered by sunscreen use is actually of far greater value than simply warding off temporary irritation from a sunburn. By preventing repeated sunburns, regular sunscreen use also minimizes the risk of developing various forms of skin cancer at a later date.
When selecting which sunscreen to use, the higher the SPF rating, the greater the protection that is afforded. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends the use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen of no less than SPF 30 for prolonged outdoor activities. Sunscreen should also be reapplied every two hours.
Signs of Impending Heat-Related Illness
Even when taking adequate precautions, one should always be aware of their own physical state, in order to recognize the onset of heat-related illness. The following are some of the most common signs attributed to such ailments.
Sudden onset of exhaustion
Cold, pale, and clammy skin
If any of the abovementioned symptoms arise, retreat to a climate-controlled setting as quickly as possible, use cooling cloths to lower your overall body temperature, and sip water slowly. If symptoms persist, contact a healthcare provider.
A Fun, Yet Safe Summer
While the summer can indeed be one of the most enjoyable times of the year, it can also be one of the most dangerous. Heat-related illness has a way of sneaking up on the unsuspecting, far quicker than most would think. However, by adequately preparing yourself for the conditions that are to be faced, you will be better able to enjoy the great outdoors, no matter what mother nature throws your way.