My wife and I were camping last year around this time. On our first morning, we decided to go for a “short” walk to acclimate to the wilderness. It was a beautiful morning. The weather was perfect. We saw three cute pheasant families. Life was great. Our short walk got longer and longer and longer. By the time we turned around, it had gotten hot and we were a long way from camp.
The walk back wasn’t easy in the heat with no water. We had to make frequent stops in the shade to cool down. At one point, my wife couldn’t go any farther. She was too hot and was feeling nauseous.
We eventually made it back to camp safely, but it could have been much worse. My wife’s body was heating up faster than she was able to cool down. Later I realize she was suffering early signs of heat illness.
Heat illness, which includes heat exhaustion, cramps and heat stroke, kills people every year. Earlier this year in California, a 17-year-old girl died from heat stroke just two days after beginning work on a farm.
Recognize the signs of heat illness
Signs of heat exhaustion include:
- Extreme weakness.
- Clammy and moist skin.
- Profuse sweating with normal to slightly elevated body temperatures.
Signs of heat stroke include:
- Mental confusion.
- Loss of consciousness.
- A complete lack of sweating.
- Hot and dry skin with increasing body temperature.
Protect yourself from the heat
If you are going to work or play outdoors this summer:
- Acclimatize yourself to the heat–try to ease into outdoor activities over several days.
- Start early and finish early–take advantage of the coolest hours of the day.
- Use sunscreen.
- Wear light-colored, loose fitting clothing.
- Drink plenty of water–at least a quart of water per hour even if you are not thirsty.
- Take frequent breaks in the shade.
- Stop what you are doing and go to a cool, shaded area if you don’t feel well.
Call for help
Call for help if you think you or someone else is suffering from heat illness.