In the summer, or even fall, winter and spring in some parts of the world, heat can be a dangerous element in the outdoors. According to the Centers For Disease Control, 7,415 deaths in the United States were associated with exposure to excessive natural heat from 1999 to 2010. That’s an average of 618 per year!
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Don’t become a statistic and use these tips to keep cool in hot weather.
1. Avoid The Sun
Follow the lead of animals. If you don’t see any snakes or iguanas or squirrels or birds, it’s probably because they are hiding in the shade. This should come as no surprise, but stay out of the midday sun when it is uncomfortably hot.
2. Water Is Your Friend
Drink water, and lots of it. If you must exert yourself in the outdoors during hot weather, drink even more than normal. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 16-32 ounces every two hours.
3. Don’t Forget Minerals
For athletes or those who must maintain exertion during heat (or even cool) for many hours, profuse sweat can sap the body of important electrolytes, leading to nasty cramps. For those folks (like ultra-runners, long distance hikers or workers) who are outside all day, salt tablets are a great way to maintain healthy electrolyte balance and avoid painful cramping.
4. Light Clothing
Wear as little clothing as possible while still protecting against sunburn. Protect likely burn areas with sunscreen and light colored fabric.
5. The Hat Dilemma
A brimmed hat is an excellent way to shade the face, which reduces fatigue from squinting and protects from sunburn. However, a hat can also trap heat. Choose hats wisely, opting for light colors and materials that breath. To cool down quickly, soak a hat in icy water before placing it on your head.
6. Soak in a Stream
If you are lucky enough to be near a stream, get in it! Even if you aren’t already hot, a few minutes in an icy stream will cool you off for hours. A quick, freezing dip just before bed will help you sleep through the hot muggy night in a tent.
7. Eat To Cool
Hot food raises your core temperature, so avoid hot, heavy meals, opting instead for cool foods and drinks.
8. Keep an Eye On Friends
Heat is dangerous. Watch for signs of heat stroke (a core body temperature above 105 degrees) like throbbing headache, dizziness and light-headedness, lack of sweating despite the heat, red, hot, and dry skin, muscle weakness or cramps and nausea and vomiting.
9. If You Suspect Heat Stroke
Call 911 or other emergency responders immediately and begin first aid. Move the victim to air conditioning or a cool, shady location. Place ice packs in the victim’s groin and armpits. Fan the victim. If possible, immerse the victim in ice water or a cold lake or stream. Do whatever you can to lower their body temperature, because heat stroke can quickly cause brain damage or death.
10. Pitch For Airflow And Shade
When setting up a tent in hot weather, look for airflow and shade. Even after dark, shady areas are the first to cool as the ground doesn't have as much latent heat from baking in the sun. Spots that catch any breeze will be preferable. And if there are no storms or bugs? Sleep outside the tent! It's cooler and you can enjoy the stars.