The great outdoors can easily become the deadly outdoors in Arizona. While some parts of the state do remain cooler, many areas are hot, hot, hot. An ongoing joke is that folks use oven mitts to open car doors in parts of Arizona, and that is not far from the truth. Some tips will help you stay safe, cool and hydrated while trekking through the Grand Canyon State.
Always carry at least one bottle of water with you, even if you are only in your car. Cars do break down, and you do not need to be stranded without any liquid. Drink more water than you normally would when you are in the desert. Drink water before you get thirsty. Keep drinking it even when it feels like your thirst is quenched and after strenuous outdoor activity. If your body does not stay hydrated, you may suffer from headaches and fatigue brought on by being out in the heat. Steer clear of alcohol, caffeine and drinks with lots of sugar; they can dehydrate you. Also steer clear of very cold liquids as they can give you stomach cramps. One more water tip is to take a cool shower or bath to help beat the heat.
In addition to staying hydrated, stay out of the sun. Schedule activities in early morning or late evening when the sun is at its peak, usually between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. You can try the oven mitt trick for opening car doors, and keep a towel to sit on for dark leather and other car interiors that get hot when parked in the sun. Invest in a windshield cover to help keep a parked car cool. Also invest in sunscreen and a sun hat, both of which will do wonders for shielding you from harmful rays.
Kids and Pets
Some desert plants and animals may look intriguing, especially to kids and pets. A child or dog that has never seen a cactus before, for example, may run over to grab or take a bite out of it. Many desert plants are rife with thick spikes and thorns. Arizona is home to rattlesnakes, scorpions and tarantula, which are best left alone in the wild. Warn children of the dangers of the desert, and keep a close eye on pets.
Never, under any circumstance, leave kids or pets unattended in a car. The temperature can soar in a matter of minutes, causing heat stroke and, in some cases, even death. Let air conditioning be your friend in the hot spots of Arizona.
Dress in loose, light-colored clothing while out in Arizona's desert, and bring a jacket along because temperatures can drastically drop once the sun goes down. Try to eat a light snack, such as nuts or fruit, every time you drink some water to maintain electrolyte levels. Never hike alone, and do not hike in unknown areas without a map. The desert can start to all look the same, and it is easy for folks to lose their way. Hiking in the heat can wear you down. Take a five minute break every 30 minutes or so in the shade.
Article Written By Ryn Gargulinski
Ryn Gargulinski is a writer, artist and performer whose journalism career began in 1991. Credits include two illustrated books, "Bony Yoga" and "Rats Incredible"; fitness, animal, crime, general news and features for various publications; and several awards. She holds a Master of Arts in English literature and folklore and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in creative writing with a French minor from Brooklyn College.