Safety Tips: Health First



You should have at least one gallon per person per day, plus an extra five gallons in the vehicle. Depending on the type of activity and the heat of the day, your water needs can and will dramatically change. Always keep hydrated. No beer, coffee, or alcohol while hiking as these will dehydrate you and not quench your thirst. Drink water if you have it.  Do not ration it if you have enough. Breathing through your nose and not your mouth will help reduce moisture loss.

Some of the signs of possible dehydration:

  • Thirst
  • Dry mouth / Cotton mouth
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Dark urine


Heat Cramps:

  • One heat related problem that you may encounter that is not normally considered life threatening is Heat Cramps.
  • Usually associated with strenuous hiking.
  • Usually cramps in the legs or stomach.
  • Normally a condition of low sodium.
  • Try not to use Salt Tablets because they require a lot of water vs. using a salty food such as nuts.
  • Try resting in a shaded area.
  • If cramps are in the legs, try stretching or massaging the muscle.


Heat Exhaustion:

What happens to the Body:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness/light headed
  • Weakness
  • Feeling sick to your stomach /vomiting
  • Pale clammy skin
  • Irritability or confusion
  • Fainting
  • Decreased and dark urine

What should be done:

  • Move the person to a cool, shaded area to rest and do not leave the person alone.
  • If the person is dizzy or light headed, lay them on their back with their feet elevated.
  • If they are nauseated, put them on their side.
  • Remove heavy clothing.
  • If they are not sick to their stomach, have them drink a small amount of water every 15 minutes or so.
  • Try to cool the person with a spray mist or cold wet cloths.
  • If the person does not feel better within a few minutes, they will need to be transported or taken to emergency help.
  • If not treated, the illness could advance to Heat Stroke.


Heat Stroke:

What happens to the body:

  • Dry pale skin, no sweating
  • Hot red skin, looks like sunburn
  • Mood changes, iirritable, confused, not making sense
  • Seizures, collapses/passes out

What should be done:

  • Emergency help needs to be obtained immediately.
  • Move the person to a cool shaded area.
  • Lay the person on their back.
  • If they are having seizures, protect them so they do not injure themselves.
  • If the person is nauseated, place them on their side.
  • Remove heavy clothing.
  • If they are not sick to their stomach, have them drink small amounts of cool water every 15 minutes.
  • Cool the skin by fanning, spray mist, or wet cloths.
  • Place ice packs (if available) under the arm pits, back of the neck, and groin area.


Hypothermia (too cold):

Yes, it can (and frequently does) get very cold during the winter in our local Southern Utah deserts. The low 30’s with a wind chill may be nothing for those of you from the mid-west and the upper northeast, but if you were running around in a short sleeve shirt with no jacket during the day because it was 70 degrees during February and the sun goes down, you may have a recipe for disaster.  The deserts are no different from hiking anywhere else, so be prepared.  Something to remember is that the deserts tend to lose heat very rapidly after the sun goes down.