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Sunstroke, tips on avoidance.

Submitted by philbox on 2002-07-21

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I`m out there in the sun enduring extremely hot temps in the middle of summer and as I bend over I feel as though my head will burst. I have a major event happening inside my skull. I`ve had this happen so often in the past that I endeavoured to find out a little about how one could avoid this debilitating condition.

This is not in any way any sort of scientific paper, this is purely what works for me. You may find that this could very well work for you.

When I know that I am going to be working hard out in the sun be it climbing or hiking a long aproach up to the base of the cliff, I will begin to drink lots of water the DAY BEFORE I`m due to start. During the night before I will of course have to get up lots to go to the toilet to pee, whilst up I have another long drink of water. This will happen several times that night.

I call it superhydration, dunno if that is a scientific term but hey it works for me. When I get up for brekky I will again be drinking a bunch. On the way to the job/crag/aproach I will also be drinking water. Is this becoming monotonous, do you detect a trend here, GOOD, stick with me here.

While I`m working/hiking/climbing I will not forget to drink, particularly so if I`m to do a hard crux sequence, I will drink before I do the hard work. When I reach where I am going I will seek out some shade and cool my head and drink some more.

Do not ever make the mistake of rationing your water, it is far better to carry your water inside your belly than in the bottle. There are stories of heat stroke victims having half full water bottles with them because they thought that they should save their water for later.

If you do begin to suffer the effects of heat and dehydration then try to cool your head down by splashing water over it. Apply water to your armpits and groin areas as these areas have blood vessels very close to the surface. Obviously shade and air movement helps as well.

I live in a hot and mostly dry climate on one of the dryest continents on earth and I have had to adapt to the environment that I live in. I love getting out on the cliffs all year round. I take clients and friends out and I am always aware that they too should be looked after and I feel a responsibility for their well being when they are out there with me so I am continually harping on to them about keeping their fluid levels up.

I mostly go home now after a long hot hard weekend at the cliffs feeling great. It doesn`t matter how hot it gets I can still work hard, I might be losing a whole lot of sweat but I`m replacing it just as fast.

Remember the golden rule, if you get thirsty it is already too late. You can drink until you are sloshing but you will still not be able to overcome your heat stress/dehydration.

Drink before you need to drink and you will indeed be able to enjoy your cliff workout much more, trust me when I say that it is no fun having heat stroke, I know first hand.

...Phil Box...

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Athletes who drink a lot of water are highly suceptable to electrolite poisoning. Electrolite drink mixes containing the correct amouts of Potassium, Sodium, and Glucose (and not much else) are excelent for both treatment and prevention of dehydration. They are often marketed in the U.S. towards babys and may be found at a pharmacy, grocery store, or health food store. These may be diluted for prevention but not for treatment. One Litter of treatment contains more than the U.S. RDA of sodium. Please note that rehydrating solution packets are different than vitamin and mineral concentrated drink packets.

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