Would you look at this map from the Burlington Free Press? It’s incredible. We’re in day #5 of a terrible heat wave, and I’m DONE.
This is rare for Vermont. Summer temps are usually in the 70’s, with an occasional foray into the 80’s. It’s one of the many reasons I love living here. But the past few days have been a different kettle of fish. It’s been in the nineties!
Oh. My. God.
It’s awful. I don’t know how people who live in places like Florida stand it. Give me a cold day anytime. There’s a lot to be said for walking across the room without breaking a sweat. And I can always pile on layers.
The problem is we’re not used to temperatures like this, and we certainly haven’t had a chance to acclimate. June was pretty cool, and that makes a difference. What makes it even more unbearable is that most places, including my house, have zero air conditioning. I’m fortunate enough to live on a lake, so I’ve been spending a lot of time there.
So what do you do when you’re a dedicated runner/cyclist/hiker/outdoor enthusiast, and it’s hot enough to bend railroad tracks? Or melt the tarmac enough to cause a plane to sink? And I’m not exaggerating: Both of these actually happened during previous heat waves.
Heat is nothing to mess around with. According to federal data, it actually causes more deaths annually in the United States — about 130 — than flooding, lightning, tornadoes, hurricanes or cold.
I don’t mind summer, but these temperatures are crazy. Once it reaches around 82°, I’ve pretty much had it. And with the way the climate is changing, there’s little doubt we’ll be seeing a lot more of these super hot days in the future.
So what should you do when it’s really, really hot? Should you go outside and work out? Or should you skip it entirely and feel like a complete slug?
You could sit around and dream about ski season. That’s one alternative, though it won’t do you much good. Or you could work out indoors, where it’s air conditioned, which is probably a lot better. But if you simply have to get outside, make sure to take the proper precautions:
- Drink plenty of fluids. And I mean plenty. Dehydration can contribute to fatigue and poor performance. Even worse, it can cause heat stroke. So be sure to drink 2 cups of water 2 hours before you start your exercise routine, and keep it coming — about 8 ounces every 15 minutes.
- Wear appropriate clothing, preferably light in color and moisture wicking. Cotton stays wet, making clothes cold and uncomfortable, so it’s not the best choice. There are a lot of high tech fabrics that are much better and will keep you feeling better.
- Exercise during a cooler part of the day. It’s best to go out first thing in the morning, or late in the day, when the sun isn’t directly overhead.
- If you stop sweating, stop exercising. Or if you feel nauseous or dizzy or especially hot. This is extremely important. You could be suffering from heat stroke, which can require emergency treatment.
- Swim. This is a great way to exercise and stay cool at the same time. Kind of a no-brainer, don’t you think?
Also, it’d be a good idea to learn to recognize the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Here’s a handy-dandy graphic put out by the National Weather Service that can help:
Keep cool, everyone. Remember, the earth is turning and winter is coming. Then we’ll complain about the cold. 😉