June has brought the first wave of hot summer temperatures, which has many Arkansans heading indoors for relief. However, Arkansas State Parks wants to remind folks that one can safely enjoy the outdoors even during the heat of the summer. Arkansas State Parks Ranger Jason Parrie has some handy tips and precautions when outside in the heat.
Planning is key.
Consider the heat before you go. Do you know how to handle an emergency situation if it arises? What precautions can you take to address hot temperatures?
Timing is big!
Mornings are usually the coolest time of the day. If you can’t pry yourself out of bed to beat the heat, evening time is almost as good. Sunsets can be beautiful.
Try to plan activities and routes where shade is available. If you know none will be, consider bringing your own. Light, wide-brim hats, and umbrellas can keep the sun off.
Then add more water. Dehydration is dangerous and water is still the best way to combat it. Flavored drinks, while not ideal for rehydration, are a good alternative because they can encourage folks, especially younger ones, to drink more fluids. “While working at Pinnacle Mountain State Park one 4th of July, I hiked up the mountain with a backpack filled with bottled water. By the time I reached the summit, I was out of water—I had given it all away to groups hiking up the mountain on that hot day who hadn’t brought any water at all.”
Be honest with yourself.
Know your physical limitations. It’s OK to take breaks or even shorten your activities. “As a first responder, I’ve cared for many patients who just pushed themselves too far or were a bit unrealistic in assessing their abilities—especially in the summer heat.”
Know the Signs of Heat Stress
Don’t ignore them. Dizziness, weakness, and/or nausea are signs that you need to cool down and hydrate right away. “If you feel thirsty, you’re already behind the hydration curve.”
Don’t forget your pets.
Consider if your pet is fit enough to handle the exertion. More than once tragedy has struck a family who failed to consider their pet’s needs during an outing in the summer heat. Some water, shade, and a break now and then go a long way toward keeping your pet with you for future adventures.
Arkansas has a bounty of outdoor activities and adventures waiting to be experienced. A sensible approach to addressing the summer heat will let you safely enjoy them all season long.