Be Safe and Beat The Heat

The U.S. Natural Hazard Statistics reported more heat-related fatalities than deaths due to lightning, flood, tornado, or hurricane.  With some simple precautions, you can safely garden in the heat.  The keys are working slower at cooler times of the day, drinking more appropriate fluids, and taking more breaks in a cool place.  Perspiration is our body’s method for evaporative cooling. If the air temperature is too high, perspiring may not be enough to cool your body and the resulting heat stress may lead to heat cramps and heat exhaustion or even heat stroke, a potentially fatal condition.   

Anyone can experience heat stress, but folks over 65 and the very young are most susceptible; overweight, heart disease, poor circulation, fever, sunburn, and some prescription drugs also increase susceptibility. If you are at higher risk, ask someone check on you periodically, if not work with you. 

The Center For Disease Control Provides The Following Tips:

  • Drink plenty of cool (not icy cold) fluids; water is best. Drinks with alcohol or sugar actually cause the body to lose fluid.  Don’t wait to drink until you are thirsty.  If your gardening tasks require heavy exertion in the heat, drink 2-4 -8-ounce glasses of fluids per hour.
  • Avoid hot foods and heavy meals.
  • Replace salts and minerals, which are removed by sweating.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, and a wide-brimmed hat.
  • To prevent UV damage to skin, apply a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher 30 minutes before going outdoors and reapply after significant perspiring. 
  • Schedule your activities for cooler times of the day—early morning or early evening.
  • Pace yourself and accept that you shouldn’t work as fast and you probably won’t get as much done as you would in cooler weather.  If you are not used to the heat, start slowly.
  • If you find yourself getting too hot or breathing heavily, seek a cooler location—indoors in air conditioning or in a cool shower, or outdoors under a garden hose or sprinkler or in a shady area. 

Understand the Signs and Treatment for Heat Cramps, Heat Exhaustion, & Heat Stroke:

Heat Cramps

Cause: Exposure to high temperatures possibly in combination with physical exertion.

Symptoms: Excess sweating; fatigue; thirst; and stomach, arm, and/or leg cramps.

Treatment: Drink water or fluids containing electrolytes (sports drinks), rest, and get to a cool spot. 

Heat Exhaustion

Cause: ignoring symptoms of heat cramps. (Don't do that!)

Symptoms: headache; dizziness or lightheadedness; nausea; skin that feels moist; and muscle cramps.

Treatment: Drink water or fluids containing electrolytes (sports drinks); rest; and get to a cool spot. If symptoms continue, seek emergency medical attention.