Fly fishing in the summer is a great joy, but it does come with the potential for serious problems.
Heat, it's what's for breakfast, lunch and dinner all summer long. Heat is our natural state of weather in the summer. Heat can kill you, big time dead, if you're not paying attention and taking precautions. More likely than killing you is it can make you sick, cause organ damage, and leave you more vulnerable to heat problems years after you recover.
Heat is a sneak attacker, a ninja of the first order. It won't come straight at you and announce it's attack like a Viking Berserker. It creeps silently up behind you and stabs you in the back. You must be vigilant to avoid injury or death from this creeping menace.
Heat injury comes in two primary forms, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Heat exhaustion has two subsets, dehydration and salt depletion. Those two are often combined, but not always. Dehydration and salt depletion are somewhat more likely to happen when the humidity and the temperature are both high. High humidity stops evaporation of sweat which hinders the cooling process your body uses, so the body sweats even more and more. Dehydration comes from sweating out your bodily fluids to a point where you're in trouble. Salt depletion comes from loss of salt through heavy sweating because sweat carries a heavy load of salt. Salt is an absolute necessity to your body.
You can hydrate yourself fully and properly and still sweat out the salt your body needed - so just plain water without some form of salt replenishment can still get you in trouble. One of the sports drinks with electrolytes now and then during the day might be a good idea.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion start with confusion as the brain becomes hindered by the combination of heat, dehydration, and loss of salt. That is the first key danger - that confusion. That confusion can/will cause you to fail to recognize the dangerous situation you are in. When you get to the confusion part of the process it is like the first domino in a row to fall, causing the chain of events that can lead all the way to death.
Other symptoms are: Dark colored urine, dizziness, fainting, fatigue, headache, muscle or abdominal cramps, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, pale skin, profuse sweating, rapid heart beat.
Treatment: Get out of the sun and into the shade, inside an air-conditioned space if possible. Loosen tight clothing, drink plenty (but not so much your stomach starts to slosh or you'll get nauseous and that's no fun) of fluids - not alcohol or caffeine (they increase dehydration). Sports drinks that have electrolytes are probably better than plain water at this point. Back in the day we took salt tablets, they are still available, they worked for us before the salt scare hit the country. We took them throughout the day as a preventive measure - I spent decades doing outside construction work in Texas, so I know something non-scientific but based on real life about this.
Pouring cold water down the inside of your forearms, especially across the wrist area helps to cool the body back down. Heat exhaustion raises the core body temperature just like a fever does, and the body needs to be returned to it's normal temperature range. Getting under a fan helps, especially combined with moistening the skin. Do Not Pour Ice Water Over Your Head - the sudden thermal shock to the brain can make you pass out. I've seen it happen. Old timers knew and told me about it too.
Heat exhaustion can progress into Heat Stroke, which is a medical emergency that requires an ambulance be called. Heat stroke is what can kill you. The core body temperature will reach about 105 degrees and then it's pretty much lights out for you. One key signal of oncoming heat stroke is you stop sweating even though you should be sweating. If that happens to you, get to an emergency room.
Symptoms of heat stroke: Throbbing headache, dizziness, light headedness, lack of sweating, red-hot and dry skin, muscle weakness, cramps, nausea, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, rapid and shallow breathing, confusion and disorientation, staggering, seizures, unconsciousness, death. Note the similarities to the symptoms of heat exhaustion, these similarities make it easy to underestimate the amount of danger you are in.
Whenever possible use the buddy system for summer fishing. Your buddy can spot heat problems in you before you can (and vice-versa), because of the confusion that heat exhaustion causes.
Wear full length pants and shirts and and a wide brimmed hat. Sound suffocating? Go to google and type in Apache Indians and go to images. Look at how they dressed. Then type in Bedouin, and look at how they dressed. These are people that lived under a hot sun all their lives. They knew empirically how to take care of themselves.
Heat is a sneaky mean SOB, watch out for him.
Edited by Lloyd5 (07/05/16 09:08 AM)