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Beatin' the Heat - Part II

Andy’s note:  I wrote this Fourth of July morning but just couldn’t  get into a patriotic mindset.  On this day when we are supposed to celebrate our freedom from tyranny I am just not there.  Seems to me like we have lost more freedoms over the last 12 months than we have gained.  Vicksburg, MS did not celebrate the 4th for 80 years and I sorta feel like a Vicksburgian today.  The American Flag IS flying over the Princess Palace today but then again, it was there yesterday…………  and the day before and last month.


Seems like this is the week that I have heard about all kinds of heat-related problems.  One of my blog buds out in the California Desert ended up in the hospital severely dehydrated and then this:

The Gadsden Flag flies over the Old Girl in better days.

The Gadsden Flag flies over the Old Girl in better days.

STUDY BUTTE – According to the Brewster County Sheriff’s Office, Alpine resident Richard Taylor, 64, passed away in Study Butte as a result of severe heat exhaustion/heat stroke.

Taylor drove to South County for the day. Taylor drove off South County Road and into a dry creek bed. His vehicle became high centered in an attempt to drive out. Taylor then walked approximately 1.9 miles on the main road, where he was located by some residents.

Taylor was driven to Study Butte, where EMS was called. Taylor became unresponsive and EMS was unable to revive him, Taylor was pronounced dead at the scene. Taylor was a longtime Alpine resident, he served as Reserve Police Officer for the Alpine Police Department several years ago. Taylor also worked for Fed EX before his retirement.

This unfortunate death is the second report of heat related incidents in Brewster County. Last weekend a Rio Grande Electric Company employee became disoriented and became lost in the desert at the Black Gap area. The employee suffered heat stroke and was located before his condition became critical.

The BCSO reminds you that we live in a desert environment that can be a very hostile place. Before you go on an outing have a plan of action should you get lost or your vehicle breaks down. Help may be miles away from your location. Always carry plenty of water, there is never such a thing as having too much water in the desert. Pack all essentials that will help you out in an emergency. Desert survival kits and links on the web can help you prepare for any desert outing. Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke can be fatal, so know the signs.

Heat stroke can come on suddenly, but warning symptoms often appear first. They include abdominal cramps, muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, weakness, heavy sweat or a lack of sweat.

When heat stroke starts, neurological symptoms can include odd or bizarre behavior, irritability, delusions, hallucinations, seizures, or coma. Link

I received several emails after the original post the other day when I alluded to the fact that I was not qualified to really dispense sound advice. Here is some help from people in the know:

First of all I am not a physician – rather an Athletic Trainer and I will give you my opinion. When I was the trainer, I had a physician close at hand to bounce things off of so I hope you will accept thing I say in that light.

I can not say if you are drinking enough or not — but I do not think you are drinking too much. A couple of tidbits –

1. Are you waking up during your sleep cycle to go urinate. If you are not, you may not be drinking enough. I wanted my athletes to get up in the middle of the night and go – that was a good sign they were drinking at least enough.

2. Watch the color of your urine. It is a great sign. Orange is bad– clear is good.

3. Wear white shirts and white hats this time of the year. White reflects the heat, dark colors absorb it. You want to avoid heat.

4. Put a wet rag around your neck and up on the back of your head. The hypothalamus gland is located in this area and that is your body thermostat – when it is cool, your body is cool – when it is warm, your body is warm — that is why wearing a hat in the winter makes you feel warm all over.

5. Eat foods loaded with liquid – fruits – watermelon is one we fed to our athletes each day during August and September when it was so hot. The cold juice would help cool off their gut and the salt added was just one of the electrolytes they needed.

6. If you get loose bowels — you must drink more fluids and get medication to stop the loose bowels. That is nothing but draining your body of fluids.

7. If you are outside and get the chills then you have gotten too hot. Get in the AC, get in a cold shower and cool yourself off. If they continue and your body temp goes up – you need medical help.

8. If you can, weigh yourself each day at the same time (such as waking up) and in the same clothes (such as what you sleep in). Write that weight down and compare it to the day before. During this time of the year you want to weigh just about the same from day to day —- a big drop (over 3%) is an indicator you have lost too much fluid.

9. Any fluid you consume with alcohol or caffeine in it can not be counted as fluid — they cause you to expel too much good fluid that your muscle cells need.

10. Change the flavor of your water if you find that you have to force yourself to drink what you are drinking now.

11. Being from Mississippi — ice tea is my favorite so I can consume decaffeinated ice tea by the gallons.

Work Smarter. Not Harder.  I used to be as tough as a woodpecker’s lips but no more. The facts are as we get older, we get more sedentary and less adept at performing hard physical labor. Many of us gate guards are doing this as an adjunct to a Full time RV Lifestyle and we are just not acclimated to the strenuous work (at times), the demanding schedule and the outside weather elements we have to work in.  Most Northeners have no concept of what days on end of 100+ degree heat can do to you mentally and physically.

I  can do little besides give you a heads up; the rest is up to you.  If you are gate guarding in South Texas this summer, take heed of these last two blog posts. In addition:

  1. Make sure you do not run OUT of water.  If your supply starts to get low, call your Service Guy and make him re-fill your tank.
  2. Keep a reserve of potable water on hand in case you cannot get to town to replenish it.  I use the Reliance Products Aqua-Pak 2.5 Gallon Rigid Water Container as my emergency back up.
  3. If you are on a busy gate, you must have some shade to work in. PERIOD.  It may be your awning, or a pop up or even a chair with a sun umbrella on it.  You MUST have a shaded area to retreat too.
  4. Get a big hat.   You will not see a local rancher out that is not wearing one.
  5. Two roof top AC units are just about a minimum requirement when the temps go toward 100 degrees.  If you only have one rooftop AC, check into a portable AC unit that runs an exhaust hose out a window or a small window mount AC unit.  Both of these can be powered off of the 20 amp 110v outlet found on most generators.  Make SURE you plug them into an adequate extension cord.  Anything less than 12ga will NOT be heavy enough.

Y’all take care– PLEASE!

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