Photo by Melody
Congratulations to all our photo contest participants! Check out the winning photos here. We will have the 2015 calendars available to order from Zazzle soon.

Gardening Safely in Hot Weather

By Toni Leland (tonilelandAugust 1, 2010
bookmark

Summer's here and it's HOT! Our beautiful gardens aren't the only things that suffer from high temperatures and suffocating humidity. Be aware of how the heat can affect YOU while carrying out your gardening chores.

Gardening picture
thermometer
(Editor's Note: This article was originally published onJuly 7, 2008. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.)  
 
What is Extreme Heat?

In weather-related situations, heat waves are a leading cause of death. Two or more weeks of temperatures that range 10 degrees or more above the average for a region is considered a "heat wave." The Center for Disease Control Emergency Preparedness & Response registered 8,015 U.S. deaths between 1979 and 2003 that were due to excessive heat exposure. Symptoms and treatment are described later for the four main heat-related conditions: dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke.

Most of us (except the proverbial mad dogs and Englishmen) don't go out in the midday sun, but gardening tasks must be completed if we don't want to lose control of our gardens. When temperatures soar, be prepared to make some adjustments in your gardening,
weeding, and watering schedule.


Prevention is the Best Cure

 

Get that gardening done while it's cool! During extremely hot weather, limit outside physical activity to before 10 a.m. and/or late afternoon (after 4 p.m.)

Follow the shady spots around your property and let Nature help keep you comfortable.

water
Drink 'til your teeth float! Whether you're thirsty or not, drink 16 to 32 ounces of water or fruit juice per hour during exercise in hot weather.

 

Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and high-sugar drinks while working in hot weather; these speed up fluid loss and make you feel hotter.no no


Work a little slower - it'll still be there later.


If you feel too hot, move into the shade to rest, or go inside to cool down.


Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing made of natural fibers such as cotton or linen.

hat
ALWAYS wear a hat with a brim. This will protect not only the top of your head, but shade your face and neck. Body heat escapes through the scalp, so try to find a light-weight or vented sunhat to help keep your head cool.


Sunglasses will protect your eyes from both glare and dust.


Sunscreen of SPF15 or higher should be applied before going outside, especially on a cloudy day when the lack of rays can fool you.


Use insect repellent, especially in the early morning hours when the mosquitoes are active.

Who is At Risk?

 

Even healthy folks can become victims to dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or heatstroke. For older gardeners (65+) and those with chronic illnesses, hot weather is not a friend. Why? As we age, our bodies may not be able to manage heat stress and, in the case of the elderly, the body might not sense the temperature change or respond to it. Some medications also prevent the body from regulating internal temperatures when the weather is hot.

What are the Symptoms of Heat-related Conditions?

Dehydration
We all know what dehydration is, but did you know that by the time you are "thirsty," you are already dehydrated? Severe dehydration can lead to kidney failure, or become life-threatening.
  • Dry mouth
  • Increasing thirst
  • Weakness and/or lightheadedness
  • Decrease in urination
  • Dark urine
Advanced symptoms (especially in children or the elderly)
  • No tears
  • Sunken eyes
  • Skin that does not spring back when pinched
WHAT TO DO
  • Begin rehydrating as quickly as possible; notify your physician for further instructions.

Heat Cramps
During heavy sweating, salt and moisture are depleted, and it is believe that this is the cause of the muscle pains or spasms known as heat cramps. They are usually associated with strenuous exercise and affect the abdomen, arms, or legs. Individuals with heart problems or those on low-sodium diets should seek medical attention immediately for heat cramps.
WHAT TO DO
  • Stop activity
  • Move to cool environment
  • Drink clear fruit juice
  • Wait a few hours after the cramps subside before returning to activity
  • If cramp does not subside within an hour, seek medical attention

Heat Exhaustion
Occurring indoors or outdoors, with or without exercise, heat exhaustion is the result of long periods of exposure to very warm environments. Excessive sweating drains the body of fluids and electrolytes (salt and minerals). Left untreated, heat exhaustion can progress to heatstroke - a life-threatening or disabling condition.
  • Heavy perspiration
  • Cool, clammy skin
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Shallow Breathing
  • Muscle tremors
WHAT TO DO
  • Move immediately to an air-conditioned environment, if possible, or to a shady spot outdoors
  • Drink cool non-alcoholic or decaffeinated beverages.
  • Loosen clothing
  • Stay quiet for at least an hour
  • Individuals with heart problems or high blood pressure should contact their physician

Heatstroke
When the body becomes unable to control its internal temperature, the sweating mechanism fails and the body is unable to cool down. Within 10 to 15 minutes, the core temperature can rise to 106 degrees F or higher. The most dangerous of the heat-related conditions, untreated heatstroke can cause death or permanent disability.
  • Rapid pulse
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness
  • Red, hot, dry skin
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Body temperature above 103 degrees F (taken orally)
  • Unconsciousness
WHAT TO DO
  • Move victim to an air-conditioned space, or shady spot outdoors
  • Seek medical attention immediately
  • Do not give the victim fluids to drink
  • Loosen clothing
  • Position person in a semi-sitting position
  • Bathe head and body with cold water, or mist victim with garden hose

One Last Caution
While the thrust of this article is aimed at gardeners, remember that infants and children are also highly susceptible to heat-related conditions. Always consult a physician immediately if you suspect that a child is suffering from the heat.

Resources:
HealthBeat, Illinois Department of Health, April 2007
MedicineNet.com, 2008
Center for Disease Control Emergency Preparedness & Response Website, http://www.cdc.gov
Santa Clara County Hot Weather Tips


  About Toni Leland  
Toni LelandToni Leland has been writing for over 20 years. As a spokesman for the Ohio State University Master Gardener program, she has written a biweekly newspaper column and is the editor of the Muskingum County MG newsletter, Connections; she currently writes for GRIT, Over the Back Fence, and Country Living magazines. She has been a gardener all her life, working soil all over the world. In her day job, she scripts and produces educational DVDs about caring for Miniature Horses, writes and edits books about them, and has published five novels.

  Helpful links  
Share on Facebook Share on Stumbleupon

[ Mail this article | Print this article ]

» Read articles about: Summer Gardening, Weather And Storms, Garden Safety, Avoiding Sunburns

» Read more articles written by Toni Leland

« Check out our past articles!



Discussion about this article:
SubjectTopic StarterRepliesViewsLast Post
a very good and timely article Dutchlady1 12 81 Aug 15, 2010 6:38 AM
Heat Exhaustion margemcm 0 4 Jul 9, 2009 7:11 PM
Heat exhaustion emilieanne 6 68 Jun 30, 2009 9:41 PM
You cannot post until you login.


We recommend Firefox
Overwhelmed? There's a lot to see here. Try starting at our homepage.

[ Home | About | Advertise | Media Kit | Mission | Featured Companies | Submit an Article | Terms of Use | Tour | Rules | Privacy Policy | Contact Us ]

Back to the top

Copyright © 2000-2014 Dave's Garden, an Internet Brands company. All Rights Reserved.
 

Hope for America