The sun shines down, relentless. Sweat runs down your brow and drenches your back. Every footstep is an effort. Hiking in hot weather can sap your energy and cause serious health problems if you don’t take appropriate precautions.
Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke
One kills – the other just makes you miserable.
Heat Exhaustion is caused by excessive loss of water and salts from prolonged exposure to heat. It won’t kill you, but you can still feel pretty sick. You might get a headache, feel nauseous, become fatigued, sweat heavily and/or have a raging thirst. It’s critical to get out of the heat, apply cool, damp cloths if possible to bring down body temperature and drink liquids.
Most hikers won’t ever experience more than mild heat exhaustion, but left untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke (where your body loses the ability to cool itself). Heat stroke can cause death. Travel smart in hot weather.
Hot Weather Hiking Tips:
- Water in – drink lots of water, topping up before you get thirsty.
- Water on – soak your hat, shirt, bandana and use evaporation to help cool your body temperature.
- Sunscreen – apply liberally before hike and at least once midday. Don’t apply above eyes as it will burn once you start to sweat (or the water runs off the brim of the hat you’ve just soaked).
- Travel early in the a.m. or later in the day.
- Siesta (under shade) mid-day. If there’s no trees or caves or shadowy rock walls to stop near, haul out your umbrella or light tarp and create your own shade.
- Eat salty food (beef jerky, dried noodle soup, chips, pretzels) to help retain water.
- Wear sunglasses (reflection even on a hazy day will hurt your eyes).
- Replenish electrolytes with a sports drink mix (crystals added to water bottle) if sweating profusely.