How to Survive in Extreme Heat in Nature
There are many serious dangers in nature, but perhaps the worst of them is the hot, quiet killer. High temperatures kill more people in the U.S. than hurricanes , lightning , tornadoes , earthquakes, and floods combined,according to the CDC . Here’s how to get through the heat when you’re going to be outside all day.
It’s warm week and we’re on fire! The heat and humidity hit our heads, and all we can think about is getting into the pool and staying there until September. But since we got work to do, damn it, here’s the summer content you crave so much, from the finest icy cocktails to not toasting in the summer sun, we’ve got your (sweaty) back on your toes.
How intense heat kills
To understand how to survive extreme heat, you need to know how extreme heat can harm you. In addition to being very uncomfortable, heat can slowly but surely shut down your vital systems, and symptoms are surprisingly difficult to notice, especially in children and the elderly. There is more to this than the sun slowly cooking you with its omnipotent rays.
This is how it works:
- A high pressure weather system is suitable. This system pulls air from the upper atmosphere towards the ground, then the air is compressed and heated. This high-pressure system prevents clouds and winds, further exacerbating the already intense heat.
- When we spend time outside in this heat, our body temperature rises, triggering our body’s cooling system: sweat. We dissipate heat by releasing moisture, which then evaporates on our skin, cooling us down. But in extreme heat, we either sweat too much for it to evaporate, or the high humidity prevented moisture from evaporating. This leads to more and more sweating as our body overloads your cooling system, leading to dehydration.
- At this point, you start to feel very thirsty because your body is desperately trying to replenish the fluid that you lost during sweating. You also begin to experience a lack of electrolytes, which can cause symptoms such as muscle cramps, exhaustion, and fainting.
- If the heat is not dissipated, you run the risk of heatstroke. Heat completely suppresses the body’s ability to cool, and you stop sweating completely. At this point, the heat overloads your brain and you feel dizzy, weak, incoherent, confused, nauseous, and possibly unconscious.
- Eventually, your blood becomes thicker and contains less oxygen due to water loss, and your heart and kidneys have to work harder to pump and cleanse your blood. In response, the heart tries to pump more blood faster, which heats up the body even more.
- When your heart is desperate to pump blood, your skin becomes cold and clammy. Before you know it, your brain is unable to cope with the lack of oxygen and shuts down permanently.
Fortunately, as awful as it sounds, there is a lot you can do to prevent this from happening.
Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored cotton clothing.
The clothing you wear in extreme heat is of the utmost importance to both your comfort and your safety. Clothing should be loose enough to allow air to pass between the fabric and the skin to allow perspiration to evaporate. Remember that no evaporation means no cooling. Your clothing should also be light, meaning light enough to carry around (more weight means more work, which means more energy is burned and more heat is generated), and not so thick that air cannot pass through the fabric. Clothes in light colors, such as white, beige and other similar colors, are also ideal. Lighter colors reflect sunlight, thereby reflecting some heat.
Most importantly, make sure your clothing is cotton. Cotton absorbs excess moisture on your body, which facilitates the evaporation process to keep your body cool. Fancy sweat-wicking fabrics are great for a temperature-controlled gym or during cooler hours of the day, but they’re not ideal for extreme heat.
Soak clothes, hats, and towels in water.
Since cotton absorbs and retains moisture very well, you can soak your clothes in water and cool them down. Take off your shirt, then dip it in a stream or bottle with water. Squeeze out and put on again. You cool off quickly.
Hats are useful in many ways. They keep the sun out of your eyes and face, but they can also be soaked in water to keep your head beautiful and cool. Let the water evaporate on your skin so you don’t have to sweat so much.
Last but not least, when you go outside in the heat, it is a good idea to carry a towel or rag with you. Wet it, wring it out and put it on the back of your neck. There are even special towels that hold water better than cotton and keep you cool longer.
Find a shade and spend time in it regularly.
On days when the sun appears to be just a few feet away, shadow is everything. No matter what you do outside, you should look for shade in it as much as possible and cool down. When someone is being treated for possible heatstroke, medical personnel follow a cool first, transport later protocol, which is a good rule of thumb to follow on your own adventures. If you feel that your temperature rises, find some shade and cool off before trying to move again. Don’t try to endure the heat in long leaps because you feel like you are close to your destination. Do it slowly and steeply.
Do not overexert yourself
Here’s the thing: the more you move, the hotter you get; the less you move, the more you cool down. About 80 percent of the energy you burn during exercise is converted into heat, and you no longer need it when it’s already being fried outside. Take breaks (in the shade) and don’t push yourself too hard. Exercise heatstroke, or so-called sunstroke,is one of the top three killers of athletes and soldiers in training .
Drink water and replenish electrolyte stores
Drink water! The human body does a pretty decent job of keeping it cool, but you have to give it the fuel it needs. This means that you are drinking so much water that it seems to you that it is too much. Also, if possible, replenish your body’s electrolytes with salt.
And avoid alcoholic drinks, caffeinated drinks, and carbonated drinks. These types of fluids can dehydrate or slow down the hydration process. Obviously, you don’t want to waste water if you know you have a limited supply of water and have a long way to go, but you must collect enough water to drink a lot while outdoors. Bring more than you think you need.
Avoid using portable electric fans
As enjoyable as they seem, FEMA recommends not using electric fans when outside temperatures are above 95 degrees Fahrenheit. They explain that fans create airflow and create a false sense of comfort, but they don’t really do anything to lower your body temperature. In addition, they dry out the skin, so no evaporation occurs. This false comfort and lack of cooling can lead to a sudden sunstroke attack.
Wear a bottle of mist
Take a misting bottle with you instead of a fan. This is the best option for comfort in hot weather. A few drops of water will cover your face in tiny droplets that evaporate quickly and help you cool down. This will only help lower the temperature a little, but it will also make you feel more comfortable. Just make sure it’s a spray, not a spray, to save water and ensure more even coverage of your skin.
If the outside temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, be careful and only go outside if you are fully prepared. If possible, you should avoid heating above 100 degrees, and if it is 104 degrees or higher, do not even try. It’s not worth the risk.