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By Capt. Ed Huntsman
Boating Co-Editor 

So, What's a Boater To Do?!

Protect Yourself And Your Guests

Series: Boating Safety | Story 26

August 1, 2023

Protect yourself and your guests - It's still hot! And September doesn't look like it's going to be much cooler. As a matter of fact, many areas in the Southwest – especially the Phoenix area of the Northern Sonora Desert are generally much warmer than other areas of the country.

Unseasonably Hot

Both Southern and Northern California, Utah, Southern Nevada, in fact the entire lower Colorado basin is definitely unseasonably hot. This is the hottest summer on record since the National Weather service began keeping records. That can create problems and challenges for boaters on both ends of the daily low and high temperatures.

According to U.S. Climate Data, the average low in the Phoenix area in August is 83°F with an average high of 104°F. September is somewhat better with average low and high temperatures of 77°F and 100°F. Statistically, we finally start to see some relief come to the area with the arrival of October and an average low of 65°F, an average high of 89°F.

Not Until November/December

But with what we've been going through so far this year, I doubt we'll be seeing temperatures that cool – rather its liable to stay warm, if not hot, through the fall until the November or December time frame.

So what's a boater to do?!Basically, continue the same things you've been doing all summer long. That mean's to keep drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated. In these temperatures that's one cup (8 ounces) of water every 15–20 minutes. That translates to ¾–1 quart (24–32 ounces) per hour. Drinking at shorter intervals is more effective than drinking large amounts infrequently. But in any case do not drink more than 48 ounces (1½ quarts) per hour!

Before We Go Out

The Center For Disease Control (CDC) reminds us that we should start hydrating before we actually get out into the heat. This because if we're not effectively hydrated when we first get out in the heat, it's difficult to catch up. The key is never to wait to drink when thirsty – dehydration is a primary contributor to heat exhaustion. Drinking too much water or sports drinks can actually cause a medical emergency because the concentration of salt in the blood becomes too low.

Nature provides us with a system to evaluate the level of our hydration through the color of our urine. The lighter the color, the better our hydration. The darker, the more we need to drink. If our urine is a dark yellow, you need to hydrate immediately. Continuing to hydrate well after getting out of the sun and heat is also important to maintain your health., especially if you're out in the heat a lot. Chronic dehydration increases the risk of a number of medical conditions such as kidney stones.

Sports Drinks

According to the CDC, 'Water will almost always maintain hydration during activity in the heat, as long as you eat regular meals to replace salt lost in sweat." It's not a good idea to take salt tablets. Sports drinks do a good job of hydration and providing electrolytes. But don't forget too many sports drinks will add unnecessary calories to your diet because of all the sugar they contain.

Avoid energy drinks! They contain much more caffeine than standard servings of coffee, tea, or soft drinks. Drinking several energy drinks in a day can raise caffeine levels enough to affect your heart – and NOT in a good way. The high caffeine levels are risky when added to the strain already being placed on the body by the excessive heat. Alcohol actually helps cause dehydration – so don't think that cold beer is going to help!

When To Take Cooling Measures

If you start feeling tired, dizzy, developing a headache or feeling nauseated, sweating profusely and getting clammy or becoming pale you are getting heat exhaustion.You may also experience cramps in the arms, legs and stomach with an increase in both your breathing and heartbeat.

Combined with a high temperature, being thirsty and feeling generally weak you need to get cooled down and given fluids. Move to a cool place, remove all unnecessary clothing like jacket or socks, start drinking cool, NOT cold, water or a sports drink and spray or sponge your skin with cool water. Having someone fan you helps as well. Also, cold packs wrapped in a cloth and placed under your armpits or on the neck are also effective at helping to cool you down. If you're not feeling better in 30 minutes, seek medical assistance or call 911 as you may now be experiencing heat stroke – a very serious medical emergency.

Keep Your Cool

Whether you boat with your family or friends fishing, go out with the tubes, wake boards and water skis to enjoy a day – or even the weekend on the water, be sure to give these unusually high temperatures some consideration in your preparation. First, and always check the weather every day before getting underway so you'll know what to expect. Don't let yourself get dehydrated; take plenty of water for everyone in your group and drink it frequently – at least eight ounces every 15-20 minutes. Try to stay out of the sun as much as is possible during the hottest periods of the day and use sweat resistant sunscreen, reapplying often.

And finally, know the signs of heat exhaustion and when to seek emergency medical care. Keep your cool and keep a good day good!


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