Traveling throughout the year poses a variety of different challenges. No matter what you are preparing for sometimes the weather simply has a mind of its own and will change your entire course. Not only during cold months but also during the heat of the summer, can your plans take a turn with sudden weather.
We have recently been experiencing a heatwave in the United States placing some 80 million Americans in the wake of temperatures exceeding 100 degrees daily. Without warning this is leaving more than a few vacation destinations quite the predicament as tourists and campers alike maintain plans despite the abnormally warm conditions. This places a lot more danger in the path of the average traveler and can quickly turn what is supposed to be a relaxing time away into a disaster.
Keeping cool and fighting the heat is a two part system. While National and State Parks as well as several other popular destinations are making sure to make provisions to patrol areas, place warnings and provide additional water stations, the traveler themselves must also be willing to make concessions to take care of themselves during these hot days and nights.
Pack Lightweight -
This does not just mean making your hiking pack a bit lighter. It means taking lightweight breathable clothing for your time outdoors. This applies to all travelers, even those who are simply walking from their car to inside destinations. The temperatures of parking lots after exiting an air-conditioned car can be intense and younger children and older travelers alike can experience heat sickness very quickly when changing rapidly from hot to cold. Breathable clothing can assist the body in allowing itself to properly cool naturally and help whether outdoors in short bursts or longer extended times.
Check The Weather Daily -
In the age of smart phones there is no reason you cannot simply pull up the weather for your location and find out if there will be any break in the heat or acceleration. You should check the weather in the morning before you leave for the day and make sure if you are spending time outdoors you know when the hottest point of the day will be. From there you can plan your rest stop or lunch around that time to allow that you will not be making movement during those times and thus putting yourself in harms way.
Plan Night Activities -
If you are in a commercial area check the options you have for later evening or night adventures. Some locations are open into the evening and make for a much better adventure when you can in fact fully enjoy them. Some museums and landmarks can be seen at night on special nights so planning ahead can save you some exposure to the hottest temperatures.
Stay Hydrated -
During a typical day you should consumer at least 1 liter of water per non-strenuous mile you are walking. On a hot day that should increase to 2 liters to be safe. While walking around you should always have a bottle of water close at hand. Keeping a small bottle in your bag or a water bladder in your hiking pack can save you risking dehydration or heat sickness which can cause nausea and fainting.
One of the fastest ways to feel the effects of heat sickness is not protecting your skin from the UV. While skin can become hot and dry as obvious effects of sunburn, it also locks in your body heat and does not allow it to escape which can cause rapid overheating of your core. Wearing a high SPF sunscreen can safeguard you from experiencing these effects. If you regularly use a 30 or below, during extreme heat make sure to get something 50 or above and follow directions of reapplying every 1-2 hours.
Remember summer heat is responsible for more deaths in the United States than any other weather related condition.
While effects might seem minimal if you do experience cramping, nausea or heat fatigue or fainting make sure you stop and find assistance. Try to avoid conditions when possible and take advantage of cold foods and temperatures. Do not push yourself and remember the first line of defense comes from being smart and remembering no adventure or travel is worth your health.