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schessl |
Published Friday, June 01, 2001

Anclote Key KayakerSummer time brings thoughts of warm weather, camping and great kayaking or canoeing. In many locations, summer offers the best paddling experiences. In others, such as Florida, summer paddling brings additional challenges. Everyone knows the Sunshine State is, well, hotter than Hades in the summer. Improper exercise can lead to problems with heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

Both are possibilities for the unprepared paddler. Heat exhaustion is overheating of the body due to excessive loss of fluids, the second is where the body's thermo-regulatory system stop working. Heatstroke is the worse of the two and may be fatal. A key symptom to look for is disorientation. If a person has quit sweating, is disorientated, faints or becomes unconscious, this indicates a very serious condition and requires immediate life support measures. Since this site provides paddling and not medical information, nor am I medically qualified to give advice, you should seek professional instruction on detection and first aid treatment of these conditions.

As preventive measures, there are three critical components that we use to avoid heat-related illnesses. These are: stay well-hydrated, make sure that your body can get rid of excess heat, and be sensible about paddling during hot weather. We're all familiar with "sport drinks", which work great for replenishing the body with liquids. Plain water works nicely too. It is important to keep drinking lots of liquids, before, during and after paddling.

Your body's main mechanism for getting rid of excess heat is through sweating. When you sweat, heat from your skin causes water to evaporate. As long as blood is flowing properly, this excess heat will be pumped to the skin and evaporated.

The hotter and more humid the weather is, the harder it is for your body to get rid of the excess heat. Clothing makes a difference too. The less clothing, the quicker you can cool off. Of course, this is dangerous if taken to extremes. Nude kayaking in direct sunlight is definitely not recommended! Wear light, loose-fitting clothing, sunscreen, sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat.

Use common sense when paddling and enjoy the summer.

Ed Schessl

Last update Friday, January 30, 2009

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