With clear skies and clear schedules, summer is a favorite time for many
to head outdoors and spend the weekend hiking and exploring. Even in climates
better known for their triple-digit summer temperatures, like Southern
California, hiking can be an enjoyable pastime as long as hikers take
steps to ensure their own safety. These safety measures go beyond the
basic “tell someone where you’re going” tip and can
help you enjoy your outdoor adventures to the fullest this summer.
Tip #1: Be an Early Bird
We know. Its summer and you don’t want to have to think about waking
up early. Need some motivation? 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. is peak temperature
time, meaning that if you want to have a nice hike, you’ll need
to get an earlier start. Think about it this way: don’t try to complete
the whole hike before 11:00 a.m., just try to get the hard part over by
the time the temperature spikes. You’ll be happier, safer, and may
even get up early enough to catch a mountaintop sunrise or two.
Tip #2: Dress Your Best
The wilderness is no friend to bare skin. Between sunburn, rocks, thorns,
sticks, poison ivy, and bug bites, your best bet to stay safe is to cover
up. Invest in a few moisture-wicking long sleeve shirts and some pants
to protect yourself from the elements. Anything left out should be slathered
with sunscreen, especially if you’re hiking at altitude where the
sun is stronger. Invest in a shady hat and some sunglasses and you’ll
be ready to take on the sunshine.
Tip #3: Obey Your Thirst
An average hike causes your body to lose approximately one liter of water
every hour. In especially toasty weather, that amount can double. The
solution? Bring a lot of water and sip it consistently. Your body can’t
efficiently absorb more than a half-liter of water every hour, so don’t
resort to chugging water only when you’re thirsty.
Tip #4: Pass the Salt
Once you replace your body’s water, don’t forget to replace
your electrolytes too! Pay close attention to your sodium and potassium
intake while you hike. Pack some trail mix for an extended boost of energy
that is fueled by complex carbs and throw some electrolyte drink mixes
into your pack for a quick fix.
Tip #5: Stop & Smell the Roses
Give your body a break from time to time, especially if you’re hiking
in warmer temperatures! Stop and admire the view, stretch your muscles,
and let your body cool down before continuing.
PRO-TIP: Bring an extra pair of socks to change out of your sweaty ones while you rest.
Tip #6: Educate Yourself
One of the biggest dangers while hiking in the summer is heatstroke. Know
the early signs of heatstroke so that you can protect yourself and any
others who may be hiking with you.
Signs of heatstroke:
- Lack of sweating (even in hot temperatures)
- Muscle Cramps
If these are present, stop hiking immediately. Focus on finding shade,
cooling down, and getting off the trail as soon as possible. Don’t
hesitate to call 911 and get medical attention!
Tip #7: Ask the Weatherman
Depending on your hike, the trail may experience different weather than
you were expecting. Check your weather and even check with park rangers
so that you know what to expect on your hike. This can help you prepare
for your trip and avoid dangerously hot weather conditions.
Safely Scale Those Summits This Summer
At the end of the day, remember that your choice of trail greatly influences
how safe you will be on your hike. If you’re planning a hike in
record-setting summer temperatures, you may want to consider a shadier
trail or a trail with lots of water. Also, make sure you never skip the
basics: always tell someone where you’re going, bring a compass
and map, and consider taking a buddy or two along on the trail with you.
This article contains general information about medical conditions and
treatments. The information is not advice and should not be treated as
such. The information is not intended to replace the advice or diagnosis
of a physician.
If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should
consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.