It’s summer in Phoenix. To me that means a lot of great times. But it also means that it’s time to be mindful of safety. The heat can be dangerous and it will pose a health risk to us all, particularly the very young and the very old.
Always carry a water bottle to stay hydrated. My men always have water on them. If you continue to sip on water throughout the day, you should be safe. The body can actually have a harder time processing ice cold water in the extreme heat, so cool water is a great substitute. When you lose a lot of fluid at once, you need more immediate hydration, as promised by the sports drinks. Note that the sports drinks also have a lot of sugar, which can cause dehydration. Energy drinks and sodas are the great dehydrators, and it’s best to stay away from those in the heat.
As you sweat, you not only lose water, but you are losing salt and other minerals. So, I make sure to have a bag of pretzels handy, since those have real salt. For my crews, I keep salt tablets stocked in their emergency kits.
The dry desert heat may give us a sense of cool, compared to more humid climates, but that ?dry heat? has special dangers. Just because we’re not coated in sweat does not mean that we’re not losing fluid. It can’t be stressed enough how important it is to continually sip water throughout the day. Wait – who am I kidding? We are dripping in sweat! But it’s definitely less muggy than a humid climate, except when the monsoons come through!
Sunscreen is more and more important. This is true for everyone, but particularly for fairer-skinned people. Be sure you use SPF 25 or better to avoid a nasty sunburn. I also recommend wearing sunglasses at all times. The sun is more intense than it once was and so sunglasses are more than a simple fashion accessory, they are a healthy precaution.
Wear light colored, loose-fitting clothing. Letting the air pass over your skin will help keep your body temperature low. Also consider wearing a wide-brimmed, light-colored hat to protect from the sun. It’s a common misconception that wearing less clothes is better, but it’s actually better to have more clothing on that is loose, so that the sun does not directly hit your skin.
Watch the Kids
When then kids want to go out and play, choose a park which has a water pad or take them swimming at a local pool. Make sure the kids are drinking plenty of water. Try to minimize their soda intake and give them a salty snack to keep their minerals replenished. Always make sure a responsible adult is watching the children around water. You can’t be too safe in this area.
Safety on the Trail
If you’re a hiker or biker, be sure to bring lots of water and a protein-packed, salty snack. I’d consider at least a gallon per person on a hike. Nowadays you can store water in a ?camelback? backpack which has a hose attached so that you can sip water without having to stop for a water break. I would recommend taking plenty of breaks anyway. When you find a shady spot, take advantage and use the time to relax, drink water, and maybe eat some salted nuts to keep your energy up. Try to go early in the morning before the worst of the sun.
Above all, be safe and enjoy the desert summer!