Dealing With Extreme Temperatures3 min read
When it comes to traveling to places that are either ridiculously hot or obscenely cold, even the most seasoned traveler can find himself in harm’s way. Whether you’re going on an Antarctic expedition or will be working on a farm in Ecuador, you should always prepare in advance for the weather you’re going to face and learn how to handle emergency medical situations.
So if you’re planning on spending a lot of time in any type of extreme weather, here are some tips to help you get ready.
While travelers spending most of their time by the beach or taking short walking tours are at minimal risk for heat illness, activities that exert a lot of energy, such as strenuous hiking and biking, can have a detrimental effect on the body. Heat illnesses depend on three things: environmental conditions, intensity of exercise, and your hydration level.
Before You Go
Acclimatization is key for getting your body ready to handle the heat. Exercise one to two hours a day in hot weather ten days prior to your trip. If you’re unable to do so, make sure you limit the intensity and duration of your vacation activity to 30-90 minute periods and take breaks in between. Wear lightweight, loose, and light-colored clothes to aid air circulation and optimize protection from the sun. Additionally, fluids will be vital to staying healthy and preventing illness. Be sure to drink plenty of water, sports drinks, and have salty snacks on standby. And as strange as this may sound, a good rule of thumb for monitoring your fluid needs is to check your urine volume and color; if it’s dark, you need to hydrate.
It’s also a good idea to learn about common heat disorders, such as heat exhaustion and cramps, and ways to treat them.
While many of us think conditions similar to Mt. Everest or the icy waters surrounding the Titanic are likely to induce cold-related injuries, environments with temperatures of around 50° F have been known to produce hypothermia — really! That said, we’ll concede that severe hypothermia is rare among travelers, and it often occurs during emergency situations, such as when someone gets lost in a storm, or if a small boat were to overturn in cold water.
Before You Go
Research your destination spot and look for any travel advisories. Find out what is the best clothing and equipment required for your trip, and bring plenty of warm layers and thick socks. Avoid traveling on ice-covered roads and bridges. If you’ll be traveling near water, bring a flotation device, learn self-rescue tips, and how to right an overturned boat. The hypothermia caused by falling into cold water can leave you unable to swim within 30 minutes to an hour.
Also, familiarize yourself with how to handle cold-related injuries such as frostbite and hypothermia.
Photo by Moyan Brenn.