The Lost Dutchman State Park has seen three rescues in three days due to dehydration and heat stroke (a serious and fatal condition), and an excessive heat warning is in full effect! Think you have enough water? Bring at least twice more and turn around when you’re halfway through! Your body needs water, salt, sun protection, and a good brain to know when to get out of this heat. Hike prepared, or not at all. Travel to cooler areas, start early, or keep time outside limited to an hour or less, but don’t be the next victim!
What is dehydration?
Dehydration can be a serious heat-related disease. It is also a dangerous side effect of diarrhea, vomiting, and fever. Children and people over the age of 60 are particularly susceptible to dehydration.
How can dehydration be prevented?
- Take precautionary measures to avoid the harmful effects of dehydration, including the following:
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially when working or playing in the sun.
- Make sure you are taking in more fluid than you are losing.
- Try to schedule physical outdoor activities for the cooler parts of the day.
- Drink appropriate sports drinks to help maintain electrolyte balance.
For infants and young children, solutions such as Pedialyte will help maintain electrolyte balance during illness or heat exposure. Do not try to make fluid and salt solutions at home for children.
What is heat stroke?
Heat stroke is the most severe form of heat illness and is a life-threatening emergency. It is the result of long, extreme exposure to the sun. In this case, a person does not sweat enough to lower body temperature. The elderly, infants, persons who work outdoors, people with mental illness, obesity, poor circulation, and those on certain types of medicines or drinking alcohol are most susceptible to heat stroke. It is a condition that develops rapidly and needs immediate medical treatment.
How can heat stroke be prevented?
There are precautions that can help protect you against the adverse effects of heat stroke. These include the following:
- Drink plenty of fluids during outdoor activities, especially on hot days. Water and sports drinks are the drinks of choice. Avoid caffeinated tea, coffee, soda, and alcohol, as these can lead to dehydration.
- Wear lightweight, tightly woven, loose-fitting clothing in light colors.
- Schedule vigorous activity and sports for cooler times of the day.
- Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat, sunglasses and using an umbrella.
- Increase time spent outdoors gradually to get your body used to the heat.
- During outdoor activities, take drink breaks often and mist yourself with a spray bottle to avoid becoming overheated.
- Try to spend as much time indoors as possible on very hot and humid days.
- Never leave children or pets in closed cars on warm or sunny days.