THE SUMMER MONTHS ARE HOT! That is no surprise to Texans – especially in the “dog days” of summer. It is vitally important to stay cool and hydrated this time of year.
Avoiding overheating or heat stroke can be a life and death battle and, over my 40-year lifetime, I have seen a lot of people hurting because they either didn’t prepare well for the great outdoors or were caught in a situation for which they were not expecting. Heat stroke itself is a medical condition that can occur if your body temperature rises to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. If left untreated, heat stroke can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles so this is a road most of us want to avoid at all costs.
Here are some tips to help you in exploring the great outdoors and avoiding the dangers of the extreme Texas heat.
One of the tips I have seen many roofing contractors and landscapers use over the years is a clean towel or rag soaked in cold or cool water and rung out, then draped around the neck. This simple idea has saved my bacon in the outdoors more than once. It keeps your body temperature cool when the heat is on.
Sports drinks that replenish electrolytes and water are key here. One of my favorite products to keep cold things cold with or without ice is a line of products called Arctic Ice (arctic-ice.com). These ice packs keep regular ice up to 50% longer and will keep your ice chest cooler, drier and fresher than using regular ice alone. Speaking of coolers, keep your ice chest colder longer by conserving cooler space, propping if off the ground so air can circulate underneath it and pack it with conserving inside space in mind. Hot air is the enemy here so keep that lid closed and even consider draping a wet towel over it for the evaporative effect to keep your ice chest cooler!
This should go without saying but I have been with many outdoorsmen who don’t understand the basic concept of taking cover when they start to show mild signs of heat stress. Find a tree or structure with a roof or some type of cover and cool down. Take frequent breaks from direct sunlight in the shade as well where possible.
This may sound like a simple “no-brainer” point to make but I run into people who schedule what they do outdoors in the summer during the hottest times of the day. Think smart and plan accordingly.
When in the summer outdoors hot food typically adds more heat to your body and that is the last thing you want on a hot day.
I know many of us enjoy a cold adult beverage in the outdoors from time to time but it is important to limit or eliminate beer and hard liquor cocktails when the heat is on as these can dehydrate the body quickly if not combated with hydrating drinks.
It is no secret that sunburn can affect your body’s ability to cool down and also make you dehydrated. One new sunscreens I have been using lately is Reeler’s Shield, which goes on like a deodorant instead of a messy gel or cream. I am much more inclined to use this sunscreen every time I spend time out in the sun and, especially, the heat of the day (outdoortechwear.com/reelers-shield/).
Another new product on the outdoor scene is Pop Hat (thepophat.com). This wide brim packable hat folds up to only 6 inches and can fit just about anywhere when not in use and “pops” into a hat when you need it. What a great idea!
Light-colored lightweight and loose-fitting clothing are the best choices when taking on a hot day. One of our Texas Fish & Game performance t-shirts is a good example of the quality of modern clothing that is designed with sun protection and keeping the body cool in mind.
Check these out at FishGame.com.
Be conscious of the level of your own physical condition and fitness, and avoid exerting yourself beyond your limits.
My goal with these tips is not only to help you to think smarter about what you do in the heat of the outdoors but also these products and planning considerations might save your life or the life of someone you love and care about in the future and that is some serious business. Sure, it is easy to get carried away on a summer fishing trip or September dove hunting excursion but knowing the signs of heat stress and responding before it’s too late is very important for everyone involved in your outdoor adventures.
It is also important to be aware of signs and symptoms to look for in heat stress and heat stroke such as high body temperature, altered mental state or behavior, nausea and vomiting, flushed skin, rapid breathing, racing heart rate and headache. If you think someone is experiencing heat stroke, it is important to get them cooled down by whatever means necessary. This could include removing excess clothing, getting into shade or indoors where possible and using ice packs, cold water or wet towels on persons head, neck and armpits. If signs are still evident of medical distress, seek medical attention and do not delay as this can become a serious matter.
Even if you are used to the blazing Texas heat, these are some good considerations to help you stay safe when nature delivers 100 degree plus days. The great outdoor pursuits we all love are here for us to enjoy with our friends and family, doing what we are passionate about and my goal is for these considerations to help you have an awesome day in the outdoors stay cool and healthy.
Spending time in the outdoors during the summer/early fall? Dehydration and heat stroke are two common heat-related diseases that can be life-threatening. Dr. Jessica Summers, a trauma surgeon at Nebraska Medicine, shares some tips to help keep you safe! bit.
—story by DUSTIN VAUGHN WARNCKE