I have always had a high tolerance for heat. I love to hike and enjoy the empty trails when it is too hot outside for most people. At least, I used to, until I learned about heat stroke the hard way.
Having said that, I did flirt with heat exhaustion once, which led to changes in my hiking preparedness…
While looking at pictures from past visits to the old Temescal tin mines to share on my website, I was reminded of one of my scariest hikes. On 8/1/17, I solo hiked out to the tin mines on a crazy hot day… up to 107 degrees per my Garmin. I used up all of my water, had no shade, and eventually completely ran out of energy. As I sat on a hill dehydrated and completely out of gas, I was genuinely nervous. Thankfully, a thunderstorm came along and saved the day. The cool weather and rain gave me a much needed second wind. This hike changed my preparation. Now, I always carry more than enough water, energy gel or granola bars, an umbrella for shade and a cell phone charger in case I get stuck and need my phone for an emergency. #hikeriverside #riversideca #lakemathews #hikeinlandempire #hiking
I also have a hard head and have never lost consciousness despite taking some hard hits over the years.
It turns out that hiking in the heat and hits to the head are not my weaknesses. Stupidity is.
On July 6th, 2018, the temperature reached 117 degrees Fahrenheit in Riverside. On that day, I hustled to get my work done (in my hot office) so I could leave in the early afternoon to watch my sons play water polo (in the hot sun). When we got home from the games, we entered a dark, hot house.
Yes, on the hottest day of the year our power went out.
I scrambled to get fuel, lay out cords and set up the generator so we could run some fans, keep the refrigerator cold and watch a movie.
When I finally sat down to relax at about 9 PM, I felt a horrible pain in my abdomen. I got up to walk it off and ended up in the kitchen. The last thing I remember is reaching for a cup out of the cupboard.
The next thing I remember was my youngest son asking me if I was ok. I had passed out and was on the floor. I was probably only out for a minute.
We searched the interwebs and determined that I most likely passed out due to dehydration and the heat. Technically, I don’t know if it was due to heat exhaustion or heat stroke, but it scared the heck out of me. My wife made me drink a ton of water, gave me some ice and sat me down in front of a fan. I was fine in no time.
Looking back on that day, I realized that I drank no water all day. I drank some Diet Coke with dinner, but that was it.
In other words, I was stupid and this was completely avoidable.
The silver lining: I now drink a ton of water and have completely given up Diet Coke.
With the next heat wave starting today (Wednesday is supposed to reach 111 degrees in Riverside), make sure you take care of yourself and know the symptoms of heat-related illnesses:
Signs and symptoms of heat-related illness vary based on the condition, but may include
- an elevated body temperature,
- muscle cramps,
- confusion, and
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can be life-threatening:
Heat stroke is a medical emergency requiring immediate medical attention. It is the most severe form of heat-related illness, and it can sometimes lead to death or permanent disability.
Also, let’s not forget our four-legged friends. Check this link for some warm weather pet safety tips from the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Don’t be like me. Stay hydrated and stay cool. Water is good.