Hot Hot Heat - Survival Guide

It's HOT
It's that time again - the AC is on and the pool is warming up.  Your car is getting warm and dining on a patio is becoming a questionable decision.  The heat is bearable though, especially when the temperature dips into the low 80s after a week of 90s or hotter, and you're still going on runs and hikes.  Even so, it's still getting warm enough to start exercising some caution when...well...exercising and otherwise getting outside.  Here are a few of the tips I can think of to stay safe.

(keep in mind, while I am a doctor, I'm not licensed to practice medicine and, as such, any 'health tips' should be taken with a grain of salt (which incidentally is necessary to help stay hydrated)).










1.  80 degree temperatures are still hot, especially in the middle of the day.  This is particularly a problem for me later in the fall when the temps have fallen 30-40 degrees to finally get down in the 80s-90s and I think those are comfortable temperatures.  I'll decide that because it finally feels nice outside and go for a hike on Piestewa Peak at like 2pm.  Still not a good idea.  Pro tip - the sun beats down relentlessly and can be quite uncomfortable/dangerous.  Keep this in mind, especially when going up north in the peak of summer heat when Sedona hits 80s...it's still hot enough that you need to be careful when hiking.

2.  Rearrange your schedule.  80s-90s in the morning and evening are still warm temperatures, but because the sun isn't so brutal at the ends of the day these are better times for your run/hike/bike/golf.  That's actually one of my favorite parts of the "dry heat" in Arizona, unlike Virginia where the unrelenting humidity makes evening activity continue to be miserable, we can be active as the sun goes down and maintain relative comfort.

Keeping the sun off your skin while letting
air flow is a great way to keep cool.
[Me, Petra, Jordan, on a July hike]
3.  Prepare and plan.  So you're going to go outside.  Take water.  That's a no-brainer, right?  You'd think so, but every year there are hikers rescued off Camelback who ran out of water.  An Aquafina bottle isn't going to cut it.  I don't have a handy quantity to suggest, but I take a minimum of a liter on Camelback/Piestewa hikes and leave a full water bottle in my car for post-hike.  I recently took a pretty easy 6 mile (3 hour) hike on South Mountain (85 degrees between 9am-12pm) and went through 2 liters plus my reserve bottle in the car. Other things to consider - there's not much shade in the desert so take a loose-fitting long-sleeved shirt, as long as it doesn't cling to your body it will help keep you cool by protecting your skin from the sun. This is how I survived an ill-advised summer hike in Petra.  Take a hat.  Leave your dog.  But if you're risking it and taking the dog, take cues from him as to when it's time to take a break...if he's stopping, you should probably stop for a while.





3.5 (because I didn't want to renumber)  Be aware of the signs of dehydration.  My cross country coach always said "if you stop sweating, you're dehydrated."  Easy to tell in Virginia where your sweat hangs out like it's trying to turn into amber (it's a paleontology joke, yea...), not so easy to tell in Arizona where your sweat practically sublimes into water vapor.  So here's the Mayo Clinic on signs of dehydration.

4.  Just go to the pool.  You can find a pool party at somewhere like Talking Stick Resort, you can find a calm relaxed hotel pool like [redacted to preserve the serenity of my pool of choice] where non-guests are permitted.  Lots of apartment complexes turn into pool party central in the summer, so make friends with an ASU student or recent grad, if that's your scene.

5.  Always have sunglasses.  I cannot function without sunglasses, so I have an emergency set that never leaves my car just in case I forgot my regular pair.  The last thing you want is to have a hungover drive home after a night that got unexpectedly prolonged, and NOT have sunglasses.  Been there, it's hell.

6.  Don't leave your sunglasses on the dash, or anywhere in the sun.  They can legitimately melt, depending on the material.  And if they don't melt they will at least be like 200 degrees, which is unpleasant on your nose and ears.  Been there.

7.  Be careful with your stick shift.  Don't know what I'm talking about? Maybe your shift knob doesn't have chrome on it, if there's anything metallic, you will want to shift gears with caution.

8.  Be careful with your yoga mat if you're doing yoga outside.  Yea, this gets hot too.  I used a green mat for years and if I was set up in the sun my mat would get too hot to touch.  Not good for a downward facing dog. 

Ok, I feel like I'm rambling now and maybe haven't told you anything you didn't already know.  So here are some Arizona Hiking Tips.

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