Staying cool and hydrated in summer heat important to health
Posted: Friday, July 6, 2012 12:00 pm
This historic heat wave sparks cause for concern to stay hydrated and cool during outdoor activities.
I don’t know about you but the last several days most of us have witnessed the longest running hot weather spell in our lifetimes. Not only is this tough on the humans, it’s not the best on the fish and animals either. Like us, they look for shade and cooler places to hang out.
Speaking of the latest record-breaking hot spell, last Friday, over 1,800 records were broken in 39 states combined. That says enough by itself.
Heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year. In fact, on average, excessive heat claims more lives each year than floods, lightning, tornadoes and hurricanes combined
For anyone who is willing to venture out in these extremely warm temperatures, here are several tips on trying to stay cool and hydrated.
Drink water and plenty of it long before you head out in the warm weather. For example, if you plan to get up and go fishing very early, drink a large class of water just before going to bed and another glass of water the first thing that next morning when you get up. This helps get a jumpstart on hydrating your body for what the elements might bring.
Drink before you get the “thirsty” feeling. It is important to drink fluids before you even begin to feel thirsty. Your body uses thirst to indicate that you are approaching dehydration. Rather than drinking to quench your thirst, it is healthier to continuously replenish fluids, even if you don’t feel thirsty at all.
Go with water instead of sugary based beverages. While a sugary beverage can help quench your thirst, it also carries excess calories that can be detrimental to your health. Since you have to hydrate your body with fluids more frequently under hot weather conditions, you’ll be taking in more calories than you usually do if you look toward sugary beverages for hydration.
Keep a bottle of water with you at all times. Invest in a reusable water bottle and always keep it handy. You can replenish the water bottle’s contents anytime you are near a sink, water dispenser or fountain. Even if you don’t plan on doing any strenuous activity outdoors, having a water bottle will allow you to drink your fluids regularly and before you feel thirsty.
For those of you who do not like the “water taste,” use natural flavoring in your water to help on the taste. Sometimes people have trouble drinking enough water to stay hydrated because they prefer something with flavor, and/or it’s difficult for them to drink water when they aren’t feeling thirsty. A little natural flavoring from a slice of fruit like lemon or some fresh cucumbers is a great way to add a little flavor to your water, without adding as much calories as drinking a soda.
Avoid all alcoholic beverages when you’re out in the heat and humidity. Having a couple of frosty beers from the cooler sounds like a great idea after a fun-filled day of activities at the beach or by the pool, but it’s not a good idea if hydration is your goal. While you might feel more refreshed at first, you’re likely to feel dehydrated soon afterwards due to the effects of alcohol from the beer. Alcohol is a diuretic and will cause you to urinate more frequently, so it’s best to either limit yourself or not drink any at all.
Also, have a sports drink of your choice mixed in with the water you have been drinking during the day. There are so many to choose from now so take your pick. Under such circumstances, a sports drink might be more useful than water since it can also replenish any nutrients lost in your sweat, plus it is one of the best ways to stay hydrated. Just keep in mind the calories.
Try to track your water intake for the day. It can be very easy to forget to hydrate, especially if you’re working outdoors and are more focused on the task at hand. Try setting an alarm on your watch or phone to help you remember when it is time to hydrate. This is why having a reusable water bottle handy is important for staying hydrated.
One last tip is having a cool and moist towel type material in your cooler that you can wipe your face, head, arms and legs. One of my sponsors, Frogg Toggs, has a product on the market that works very well and can be used over and over, the Chilly Pad, Chilly Dana and Chilly Sport. Made from a hyper-evaporative material that retains water while remaining dry to the touch, the Chilly Pads, Dana and Sport are an innovative way to cool down while enduring outdoor heat and/or high levels of physical activity. When wet, the towel begins to evaporate and cool, providing cool, soft comfort to the user. When it stops cooling, simply re-wet the towel in hot or cold water and wring it out. Within minutes, it’s cool again.
Check on the elderly. This kind of weather is not good for anyone, especially the older generation. Not a bad idea to call them or check on them morning and night.
Finally, don’t forget your outside pets. You need to make sure that they have plenty of water shade and food. It is also not a bad idea for some of the larger outdoor pets to have a very small plastic swimming pool filled with a little water if they want to get in and cool off.
River and Lake news
Area lakes and river levels continue to drop every day little by little. This is already starting to cause problems in some areas being able to unload and load your boats. Two years ago when Reelfoot Lake was so low, our summer started out with a little less bang than what we have had this year and Reelfoot Lake itself had more water to start with. This year, we’re not so lucky and the lake already has a head start on dropping, which could cause the lake to set historical low water level marks by the end of the summer and this fall.
Reelfoot Lake is currently at the 280.95 mark or in that range. That is well over a foot below the normal lake level of 282.20 feet above sea level.
Kentucky Lake has been low all summer and never hit the normal summer pool level of 359.0 feet above sea level mark. Right now Kentucky Lake is sitting at the 357.40 feet above sea level mark and continues to slowly drop as well. This will be the first time in the history of the lake since it was built that the lake never hit the summer pool level mark.
Gibson County Lake continues to drop each day also. Still are able to unload and load your boat but the ramp is in pretty rough shape where your trailer ends up so be very careful. If it keeps this up it will almost be impossible to unload and load a boat down there by the middle of July. I was down there on Monday for a brief fishing trip until a yellow jacket in the wasp family decided to cut my trip short with multiple stings. More on that in next week’s column and what you need in case that happens while out in the wild.
The Mississippi River continues to drop also, which is causing problems up and down the river with the low waters. The river stages at Cairo was in the 11.5 foot range this past week put is now creeping up with the river now at 12.0 mark .
When we have a very long period of dry and hot weather, in some lakes, this helps take the oxygen out of the water which reduces the oxygen level in lakes which causes the fish bite to go slow and the fish to go in a non-biting mode.
Rivers aren’t usually affected by the oxygen levels as much because they do have moving water which does help in this kind of weather.
Operation Dry Water
TWRA boating officers are coming off their participation in the fourth annual Operation Dry Water weekend. Operation Dry Water is a national weekend of BUI education and enforcement directed toward reducing alcohol and drug-related accidents and fatalities. Operation Dry Water is held during a weekend prior to the July 4th holiday to give BUI enforcement high visibility.
A total of 135 TWRA officers participated in the 2012 Operation Dry Water, logging more than 1,700 hours. Officers checked close to 2,400 vessels, wrote 180 citations, another 148 warning and made 19 boating under the influence arrests (BUIs).
One boat operator on Chickamauga Lake was arrested for his second BUI offense in three years. There were no reported fatalities over the weekend and four injury accidents and three property damage accidents. Of the reported boating accidents, two were alcohol related.
TWRA officers were assisted by police departments and sheriff’s departments, conducting saturation patrols and checkpoints across the state.
Through the Operation Dry Water weekend, there have been six fatal boat accidents resulting in eight fatalities. There have been 45 injury accidents and 40 other accidents that have resulted in property damage. TWRA officers have made 87 BUI arrests, up from 51 at the same time last year and two above the numbers following Operation Dry Water in 2010.
TWRA officials emphasize the use of personal flotation devices (PFDs) while boating in a safe and responsible manner. The TWRA wants all those who visit the waterways to have an enjoyable time. However, TWRA officers will be on the watch for dangerous boating behavior, such as boating under the influence (BUI) and other reckless operation.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife News
The folks down at the Reelfoot Lake National Wildlife Refuge Office near Walnut Log will be hosting a children’s camp July 18-20 at the refuge office. This is for children ages 9 through 12 years of age and will experience Reelfoot Lake to its fullest. The camp hours will be from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. each of the three days.
The first day, each child will need to be dropped off at the refuge office, which is located on Highway 157, which turns off of Highway 22. The children will learn about what the refuge system does, about waterfowl, tree identification, animal pelts and skulls, animal tracks and perform a job that a wildlife biologist would do in the field. The second day of the camp, each child will need to be dropped off at the Reelfoot Lake State Park down on the southern end of Reelfoot Lake, where the kids will learn about snakes and birds of prey, dissect owl pellets, and participate in a scavenger hunt. The third and final day, the kids will need to be dropped off once again at the Reelfoot Lake State Park to learn about aquatic vegetation, macro-invertebrates, and enjoy an interpretive pontoon boat ride boat ride if the water levels are adequate on Reelfoot Lake at that time.
Reservations must be made by calling the Reelfoot NWR offices at 731-538-2481 Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. This is free admission. Please pack a lunch, sunscreen, bug repellent as well as all children must wear closed toed shoes. This is open to the first 20 kids that sign up.
River Woods Church up near Benton, Ky., will be hosting a free Bass Tournament on July 14. This is a one-of-a-kind tournament and has no entry fee but the payouts will be really good. A mandatory meeting will take place the night before with special guest speaker FLW Outdoors and Strike King National Pro Staff member Mark Rose, who has won well over $1 million as a touring bass professional. For more information or to register, you can visit their website by going to www.riverwoodschurch.com or call the church office at 270-906-8294.
All boat types will be welcome. I might just see you there.
Til next week’s column,
Catch ya on the water folks.
Published in The Messenger 7.6.12