Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Are You WiltingYet?

Outside my office, at this moment, it is nearing 100 degrees and it isn’t even noon yet. While many people are tucked into air conditioned buildings, or soaking in the lake, I know that there are a few of you who are still out in the garden. Whether by choice or because you work outside, here are a few tips to keep you a little bit cooler and healthier.

Protect skin with Sunscreen. Apply it throughout the day. Just doing it in the morning isn’t going to help you at 2:00 when the sun is the worst. Sunscreen towelettes are very handy to tuck into a pocket.

Protect your eyes with sunglasses. It’s possible to sunburn the whites of your eyes, which is not a pleasant feeling (it feels like a bunch of sand is in your eyes). Also, UV rays can do serious damage to your eyes. Get in the habit of putting your sunglasses on and leaving them on. You could be saving your vision. When buying sunglasses, check to make sure they have UV protection. If they’re safety glasses, that’s even better.

Eat for the Heat – Eat light lunches and then have a snack in the afternoon. Fruit gives you energy to make it that last few hours. Pretzels replenish the salt you’ve lost through sweat. Small cans of V8 also give you a boost along with a shot of salt. Sports drinks are good for replenishing sodium and electrolytes. Caffeine brings the blood closer to the surface of the skin and will actually make you feel hotter. If you must drink soda, drink something without caffeine. Water is even better.

Drink LOTS of water to avoid dehydrating. A good idea is to take a clean gallon jug. Fill it half full of water at night and freeze it (leave the top loose so it doesn’t burst). In the morning, fill it the rest of the way with water and you’ll have cold water all day. On hot days you should be drinking a minimum of 64 ounces of water. That’s ½ a gallon. You should be drinking water before you get thirsty.

Dress for Excess (Heat)-
Light colors are cooler than dark colors. Natural fibers will breathe better and keep you cool.

Hats are encouraged for outside workers. They keep your head cooler and shade your eyes and face from the sun. Cloth hats can be preferable to straw hats in that you can wet them down to keep you cooler.

Bandanas – Soaking a bandana in the sprinkler or with your ice water and tying it around your neck will also keep you cooler.

Powder – Powder in the summer will help keep you from getting that “sticky” feeling as you sweat. It will also make you feel cooler. Keep some garden caddy and dump some down your shirt (or your pants – honest) whenever you’re feeling particularly damp.

If possible, schedule work out in the open for the morning hours. During the hottest part of the day, do any work that needs done in shaded areas.

Be alert for signs of heat stress. If you start feeling light headed, nauseous, or shaky you need to get into the shade and get cooled off. Pour some water over your head, hands and feet. Severe cases of heat stroke can be fatal. If you have an elevated temperature, hot dry skin, confusion, headache or numbness you need to seek medical help immediately.

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