End-of-Summer Heat Injuries
Even though the end of summer is approaching, most of Arizona is still experiencing hotter-than-normal temperatures. Airplanes are having trouble taking off, signs and mailboxes are melting, and many people are staying indoors to beat the heat. People need to take extra precautions to avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke. These injuries are serious and can lead to permanent body damage and even death. They occur when body temperatures rise because of external sources, and stay at a high internal temperature for too many minutes. They can also be coupled with dehydration and sunburns.
Where Do People Experience Heat Injuries?
More and more people are taking last-minute trips as the end of summer approaches. While some will fly to other states or out of the country, most people will take short weekend trips locally, to areas like Kartchner Caverns State Park, Buckskin Mountain State Park, Slide Rock State Park, and Catalina State Park. These parks are known for their hiking and camping, and attract locals as well as out-of-town travelers who want to spend some time outdoors. While heat injuries can happen anywhere, they are likely to occur when people are hiking or recreating outside in the heat of the day. Here are some tips to stay safe while you enjoy your time at a park.
Recreate During Early or Evening Hours
Don’t spend the majority of your time outside during the hottest part of the day, when the sun is overhead. This is when it is most difficult to stay cool and hydrated, especially when you don’t have immediate access to air-conditioning. Plan your hikes for the morning or later evening hours when the temperatures are cooler and the sun is hidden behind trees. Even then, wear a hat for extra shade and pack plenty of cool water to keep yourself hydrated. During the hottest parts of the day, stay in the shade and rest.
Check the Conditions Before You Go
If you know the weather is going to be a potential safety hazard, maybe opt to take the trip a different weekend or change it to an evening barbecue instead of a daytime event. If you invite friends, share tips with them as well, including bringing shade tents, wearing sunscreen, and packing plenty of water. Continue checking the weather throughout the trip in case conditions change for the worse, and be prepared to end your trip early if you aren’t able to stay cool enough.
Pack for the Weather
Pack umbrellas or shade tents to give yourself extra shade. You should also wear a wide-brimmed hat and plenty of sunscreen, and plan on reapplying often. Sunburn can increase the temperature of your skin and make it harder to cool down your core temperature, which can lead to additional injuries such as heat stroke. Bring extra water and fruits that help you stay hydrated, like watermelon.
Know Your Emergency Numbers
If you are hiking or camping in more remote areas, make sure you know how to get in touch with emergency services and can pinpoint the location where they can find you. If you or someone you are with is starting to experience a heat-related injury, seek medical help immediately, because heat injuries can severely damage your internal organs and your brain.