Mother Nature is a very independent woman, isn't she? She rarely cooperates with us gardeners' requests for the ideal weather conditions to serve our gardening purposes. Whether we need mild, sunny days, or rain, no matter how many times we sit down for a chat with her, Mother Nature does her own thing, period.
In this article, I will address remaining hydrated during strenuous activities in extreme hot and humid weather, to avoid heat exhaustion or, even worse, heat stroke.
*First and foremost, always use common sense, and choose to work during the coolest hours of the day and stay inside during high heat and humid weather conditions, whenever possible.*
Sometimes we gardeners find ourselves pushing to finish that last bit of a project during the hottest part of the day or season. I'm sure I am not the only member of the NGA who is guilty of being distracted by a pretty plant in the store that magically jumps into our cart, when we're not looking, and that newly adopted plant has to get into the pot or ground ASAP, even during hot and humid weather conditions. It's how we gardeners are wired. Of course, many gardeners, especially those who live in the hotter zones, work during the coolest time of the day, which is in the early morning, and stay inside during the hottest time of the day. We Northerners do as well, especially when the temperatures reach into the high 80's F and above, with humidity levels around 50% and above, during the Dog Days of Summer, but every so often a myriad of situations doesn't leave us much of a choice, be it our personal schedules; the upcoming weather forecast, where there's no relief from the stuffy, high heat temperatures in sight; or it's the only nice day sandwiched between days and days of rain, etc. We certainly can't stay inside for months on end, either! We have to take advantage of opportunity because our gardens don't tend themselves. 🤷
Prior to last year, whenever I would garden, or do any other strenuous activities in high heat and humid weather conditions, even though I thought I was drinking plenty of water, on occasion I wound up nauseated with Montezuma's Revenge. No fun at all! So, last year, I decided to look it up, and, as it turns out, these are just two symptoms of heat exhaustion.
"Drink plenty of water." That's all a great many of us really know. (I would venture to guess that athletes have a much better education on staying hydrated.) Well, I wanted to know exactly what is considered "plenty of water," because clearly I haven't been drinking enough water, and I wanted to know what additional steps I can take to avoid dehydration and potential heat exhaustion and heat stroke, in the extreme (or even not so extreme) heat and humidity. So, I turned to Web MD for information and guidance, and I came across the following article:
Last year, I decided to install two small gardens, and, of course, this decision was not made during the most ideal weather conditions. It was in the middle of the summer....hot and humid. (Did I mention stupidity as a choice to work in such extreme conditions? ) With my new-found knowledge, I formed the habit of setting the timer on my cell phone to force myself into taking regular breaks and drink plenty of water or a sports drink during each break. My water bottle isn't clear with liquid measurements on it, so I guestimated my intake. In such heat that I was working in, I took breaks every 15 minutes, ILO 20, to err on the side of caution. The one issue I had was to remember to drink 24 to 32 ounces of water, a couple of hours before going outside, well, mainly because I would still be in bed around that time! So now I set my cell phone alarm the night before, drink my water when it goes off, and then go back to sleep. Hey, we gotta do what we gotta do! The steps I took worked very well for me, personally, and no heat exhaustion set in! Yeah, it is annoying to have to stop multiple times in the middle of a project, but if we don't tend to ourselves, we can't tend to our gardens. These steps worked for me, personally, and perhaps different steps need to be taken for others. Obviously, consult your doctor for his or her recommendations, based on your own personal situation.
Of course, staying inside during such extreme conditions is our best bet, right?
Happy Gardening, My Friends!!
Disclaimer: I am not a licensed doctor or nurse, nor do I work in any capacity in the healthcare field. Additionally, I am in no way encouraging anybody to work outside in such extreme weather conditions, whatsoever. Everybody is different, so it is imperative to consult your doctor for his or her recommendations.
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