You don’t have to be in the desert to experience hyperthermia, Sally Menke, an Oscar-nominated film editor known for her association with director Quentin Tarantino, was found dead in Los Angeles early Tuesday morning. She went for a hike in the Santa Monica Mountains on the hottest recorded day in Los Angeles history where the temperature reached 113. Without any signs of foul play the cause of death could be hyperthermia, police have not given a cause of death yet. The film industry has lost a great person, I was a fan of much of here work. My condolences go out to her family and everyone that she was close to.
Do you know the difference between hypothermia and hyperthermia? If you do the difference the title doesn’t make sense but your average person may not know the difference. Hypothermia causes symptoms such as shivering and mental fatigue and confusion due your body’s core temperature dropping below safe levels. Hyperthermia can cause heat cramps and heat stroke. Can you treat your own heat stroke? The answer to that is NO! At this point hopefully you have someone with you or someone knows where you are. Heat cramps are only a sign that you need to slow down your body’s loss of water and salts (electrolytes). You will always hear drink plenty of water but once your body’s core temperature rises to unsafe levels you need to rest and find shade.
It’s easy to lose water faster then you replenish it. Every breath you exhale your body loses precious water vapor. To avoid hyperthermia you may need to decide your health is more important then making it back to your car where your lunch is miles away. Heat stroke is very serious and fatal if not treated quickly. Signals of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale flushed or red skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness; and exhaustion. Body temperature will be near normal. Complications include shock and brain damage. If you are with some that may be experiencing a heat stroke call 911 or get help anyway you can!
Here are a few tips to avoid hyperthermia.
• Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun’s energy. Cotton dries slower then synthetics and keeps your body cooler if it worn loosely. It is also a good idea to wear larger brimmed hats or even use an umbrella.
• Drink water. Carry water or juice with you and drink continuously even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which dehydrate the body.
• Eat small meals and eat more often.
• While hiking avoid high-protein foods, which increase metabolic heat.
• Carry a flashlight or GPS device to find your car in the dark in case you need wait for it to get cooler out.
• Don’t hike alone, hike with an experienced desert hiker if you can.