Whether you live in the desert or just plan to visit you must know your limits, prepare for the heat of the desert, and use common sense. Dehydration and heat related illnesses are primary dangers in desert regions. Each summer many people become ill due to the heat and some even die. Those of us accustomed to the desert heat are not immune. Common sense will tell you that you must pay attention to your body and take care to watch for the signs that you may be pushing yourself too far.
You must protect yourself from the sun. Wear a wide-brimmed hat to shade your head and face from the sun. A bandana around your neck will also offer protection. Do not neglect your eyes and make sure you wear sunglasses. Use plenty of sunscreen and make sure you reapply it according to the manufacturers directions. Lightweight, light colored clothing will also help protect you from the sun. Most importantly be properly hydrated.
Always have water with you in the desert and remember to drink it. The best place for water is in your body, not your water bottle! Begin each day by drinking plenty of water and continue the process throughout the day. When the body becomes overheated, dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and even death can occur.
Dehydration is loss of water from the tissues of the body. Heat cramps occur during or after the body has experience dehydration. They can be painful but not life- threateningThe symptoms of simple dehydration include: thirst, loss of appetite, dark colored urine, dry skin, dry mouth, light headedness, and fatigue. If water is not replaced when signs of dehydration begin to occur, this may lead to heat exhaustion. If you experience heat exhaustion you may become nauseous, have decreased sweating and urination, and have an increased heart rate. You may also experience increased respiration, tingling in hands and feet, loss of coordination, impaired judgement and increased body temperature.
The most advanced stage of dehydration is heat stroke. Heat stroke occurs when the core temperature of the body rises to dangerous levels and causes tissue damage. Heat stroke is life-threatening and demands immediate attention. Symptoms of heat exhaustion will likely include vomiting, difficulty breathing, rapid pulse, decreased vision, body temperature of 105 degrees or more, seizures, and collapse.
The best treatment for heat related illness is prevention. Drink plenty of water, pay attention to the hear and your body in order to avoid dangerous results from dehydration. Of course, if you or someone you are with exhibits signs of dehydration, heat exhaustion or heat stroke, it is important to cool off, drink water and seek medical attention.
The desert is a beautiful place but it must be treated with respect so that it can be enjoyed safely!