For the folks that have recently moved to Southeast Texas from no man’s land somewhere north of the Red River, I feel it my duty to let you know the subfreezing weather of a few weeks ago is not the norm for this part of the world. I heard the last time we had cold like that was in 1885, and I am pretty sure I am good without it for another 130 years or so. What we will soon have is heat and humidity.
Coming up here now will be warm weather that will have most folks out on the water, in their boats or on the beach, or trekking through the many miles of trails through our state parks and national forests. Many people will be working in their yards taking advantage of the beautiful weather. The one thing all of these people will have in common is a potential for problems with the heat.
Recently, my son, who is in excellent physical condition, and my youngest granddaughter took off on a trek in the national forest between Coldspring and Cleveland. They brought with them what they thought was ample water for their plans for the day. They ended up back at his truck five hours later almost out of water and extremely tired.
The next weekend, they went out again with almost twice as much water and snacks. That time they had no problem. Having enough water and proper snacks cannot be over emphasized when going out in the heat and humidity of Southeast Texas, even if you're only working in your yard.
When the temperature starts getting into the mid to high 90s and humidity is high, that will result in potential dangerous heat. Whether you are a native of Southeast Texas or not, it is time to start to get serious about survival in that heat.
When that kind of heat arrives, if you don’t address it properly and seriously, it can be a killer. That statement is not an exaggeration, and children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances. Temperatures in vehicles can reach lethal points in a matter of a few minutes.
Persons involved with outdoor activities no longer just have to worry about sunburn, but heat stroke.
First off, if you are going to go out into the midday sun to participate in almost any outdoor activity, you must be prepared to deal with the heat and humidity. A lot of fluids are necessary to keep you hydrated, and the proper snacks are needed to keep your heat snatching energy up in order to enjoy yourself as well as for safety.
I am not saying that you cannot have a good time, but you must take proper precautions so you don’t end up with sun stroke. A good description of sun stroke is a condition in which the body’s heat-regulating system fails due to exposure to high temperatures. If you doubt the seriousness of this condition, it can be life-threatening.
A healthy body temperature is maintained by the nervous system. As the body temperature increases, the body tries to maintain its normal temperature by transferring heat by sweating and blood flow to the skin and help us keep our bodies cool. A heat-related illness occurs when our bodies can no longer transfer enough heat to keep us cool.
You may be familiar with the term hypothermia. This happens when your body’s temperature drops to dangerously low levels. The opposite can also occur. When your temperature climbs too high and threatens your health, it’s known as hyperthermia. A high body temperature can develop rapidly in extremely hot environments, such as we sometimes have in the summer.
Many people today work in nice air conditioned offices in front of a computer or on the phone five or six days a week and are badly out of shape. The weekend comes and they hit the lake in a boat, playing and having fun, and get hot and jump into the water without a life jacket to cool off. You have just put yourself in harm’s way because, in the summer, even the surface temperature of the water in the lake can be near 90 degrees. So you can soon find yourself in trouble because you find you are out of energy and your strength is rapidly declining until you cannot even swim.
Caffeine, which is in most soft drinks, and alcohol increases your risk for dehydration.
Many medicines increase your risk of a heat-related illness. If you take medicines regularly, ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice about hot-weather activity and your risk of getting a heat-related illness.
Folks, to stay safe in the coming hot weather you should drink plenty of water and/or drinks like Gatorade, wear loose, light colored clothing and take frequent breaks out of the heat. A good half-hour before you go out into the heat, you should drink plenty and really hydrate your body. Then, when you get out and play in the sun, keep drinking water and don’t wait until you are thirsty. Once you become thirsty, you are too late, and you can never catch up, so get out of the sun and into some place cool.