By Bud Paine
Pinal Rural Fire Rescue
Special to the Copper Basin News
Water is essential to life. The desert plants, insects, and animals have learned how to adapt to the low humidity and intense heat of a Sonoran summer. But humans need to take special care to drink enough water to stay hydrated.
There is no set rule on how much is needed to drink, since the amount of water taken in is dependent on how much is lost in perspiration, respiration and excretion. A good way to tell if you are sufficiently hydrated is urine color and output. Urine should be pale yellow in color with no odor, and sufficient in volume. If urine is the color of apple juice, you need to drink more liquids.
Remember to take sufficient water with you when hiking. It’s recommended that you take a minimum of one gallon per person. This may seem excessive, but you’ll be surprised at how much water you will drink with exercise.
For other forms of physical activity, whether it is bicycle riding, horseback riding or sports, you should keep in mind the importance of remaining hydrated. When engaged in activities causing heavy perspiration, you may need to replace electrolytes as well as fluid.
Be aware of the signs of heat-related illnesses, for yourself and those around you:
Dehydration: headache, fatigue, lightheadedness
Heat cramps: muscle cramps
Heat exhaustion: nausea, dizziness, fainting
Heat stroke: lack of perspiration, confusion (call 911 as this can be life threatening!)
The Sonoran sun is intense, and the need to protect your skin from its UV rays is vital if you plan to be outside for extended periods of time. The sun’s rays are most intense from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dermatologists recommend that you use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or greater, and wear long sleeves, a wide brimmed hat, and sunglasses during those hours.
Enjoy your recreation and trips out and about in the Sonoran desert but do it safely! Be sure to protect the children too.