The best way to survive the heat is to hide from it whenever possible. In desert regions, this means finding shade during the day and taking shelter indoors at night.
When you are going to be outside for a period of time that exceeds 60 minutes, seek out shade or any form of cover that will block rays from the sun.
Remember that heat-related illness is preventable!
Here are some tips to help you survive and stay cool in the heat.
Things You Can You Do to Survive and Stay Cool in the Heat
You can aid your body’s ability to survive and acclimate by following a few guidelines
1. Go Slow
Your body generates heat on its own. The more work you do, the hotter you become. So if you’re going to be outside, take it easy and take frequent breaks.
Acclimatizing to heat helps by building your tolerance over time. Do not just go out on a 4hr hike in the middle of the afternoon in the dead heat of summer if you haven’t stepped foot on a trail. Go slow. Take it easy.
2. Less is More
Wear lightweight clothes made of synthetic tightly woven fabric that does not absorb sweat. To help the sweat evaporate, wear less, or even go shirtless, as you want to have as much air to flow over your skin as possible. Although you may want to wear something to prevent sunburn, just make sure it’s thin as clothing will only worsen your situation. Helmets or headgear will also trap in a lot more heat that is wanting to escape. Less is more.
3. Drink fluids
Drink more water when it’s hot. Dehydration may be difficult to detect in dry arid regions because you’re not sweating enough. Sweating can evaporate so quickly that you may never realize you’re sweating at all. Dry heat makes you lose more fluids than humid conditions. One of the ways your body adjusts to heat is by making you feel thirsty; although, don’t rely on it too much. Whether you are dehydrated or not, you must replace any fluids that have are lost.
4. Stay in shape
If you are in good physical condition you will have an easier time adapting to rising temperatures. As fat is an insulator, it will keep your body hot, making the heat even harder to deal with. If you are planning on any type of summer hikes, make sure to take your prepare yourself adequately and stay in shape!
5. Wear sunscreen
Protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays by wearing sunglasses, hat, and wearing sunscreen. The best plan is to avoid exposing yourself to direct sunlight for prolonged periods of time. You can then keep cool indoors during peak hours without hiding indoors all day every day because the sun would cook you if you were out. Protect yourself with sunscreen.
6. Seek Shade
The best way to survive the heat is to hide from it whenever possible. In desert regions, this means finding shade during the day and taking shelter indoors at night. When you are going to be outside for a period of time that exceeds 60 minutes, seek out shade or any form of cover that will block rays from the sun.
7. Limit Exposure
During peak hours (10AM to 4 PM) spend as little time in direct sunlight as possible. Whether you’re commuting to work, spending time outside or just relaxing at home, pay attention to the sun exposure.
8. Be Prepared
As with any outdoor activity, make sure you are prepared with all of your essentials (first aid kit, plenty of water/snacks etc.). The heat can be dangerous and you don’t want any surprises catching you off guard.
Remember that heat-related illness is preventable!
Heat exhaustion symptoms
If you experience any of these symptoms take rest, drink water and get out of the sun
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fatigue or Muscle cramps
- Increased body temperature
- Increased heart rate
- Heavy sweating
- Normal skin is moist and cool to touch
- Pale color
- Fast but weak pulse
- Lethargy or irritability
Severe symptoms of dehydration and possible unconsciousness and collapse may occur if not treated promptly and appropriately.
Heat-related illnesses can affect anyone, but some are affected more than others. Some bodies may not adapt as readily such as babies, anyone 60+ years old, or anyone with a chronic condition. Anyone in these groups should closely monitor themselves when going out in the heat.
How You Adapt to the Heat
Our bodies adapt to the heat in several ways. Sweat evaporates from the skin as we sweat more, making an excellent cooling mechanism. Our bodies double their sweat production and start sweating at a lower temperature to survive the heat.
As we start to sweat more, our sweat starts containing less and less salt, so there’s less depletion of salt in the body making us more able to retain liquids. Our heart becomes more efficient, pumping more blood which circulates from our core to our skin surface for cooling.
Our cells use oxygen more efficiently. Our metabolism slows, and so does the heat it produces. These body adaptations are called heat acclimatization which happens over time.
Warning Signs and Symptoms of Heat-Related Illness
The CDC has a great infographic that shows the symptoms and what to do for heat rash, sunburn, cramps, exhaustion and stroke.
Often times you can be feeling a combination of symptoms and can be feeling experiencing both cramps, sunburn and exhaustion at once.
In hot weather, it is important to take precautions against the heat. You can do this by staying in shape, wearing sunscreen, seeking shade, and limiting your exposure to direct sunlight.
If you are feeling sick or weak from the heat, it is best to stay inside where it is cool until you feel better. Remember that its possible to stay cool!
 Warning Signs and Symptoms of Heat-Related Illness. https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/warning.html
 Keep Your Cool in Hot Weather. https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/features/extremeheat/index.html