When the sun peaks out and the warm weather rolls in, we all get the itch to head outdoors. Playing sports outdoors, taking to the road for a run or bike ride, while soaking up the sun is the best part of summer. However, when the heat hits – with temperatures soaring into the high nineties and even into the three digits – it’s difficult to stay inside when the sun is so inviting. How hot is too hot? More importantly, when should you ditch the road for a treadmill or the field for indoor sports? When the temperatures start creeping up, heat safety can be a major concern for parents, coaches, athletes, and the elderly.
Too Hot To Play Outdoor Sports?
Despite comfortability, it’s actually never too hot to be, work, or play outside. After all, some places are constantly hot and some sports are always played in the heat. For example, if you want to test your heat endurance, head to the Badwater 125-ultramarathon in Death Valley, CA where temperatures rise to 122-degree Fahrenheit. How’s that for hot weather?
However, that sort of sport is not recommended for most people, especially children and the elderly. Even if you’re not bothered by 122 degrees, there are some precautions to take when the temperatures reach a high heat index.
“It’s Not The Heat, It’s The Humidity”: Heat Index And Heat Safety
According to the National Weather Service, the heat index is what the temperature feels like when humidity is involved. When sweat isn’t able to evaporate from the body due to high humidity, the body has difficulty regulating its temperature and cooling itself off. This means conditions like heat stroke, cramps, and exhaustion is highly likely. The higher the heat index, the more likely it is that you could suffer from one of these conditions.
Figuring out the heat index involves a lot of math. However, you can simply remember that the higher the temperature and humidity, the higher the heat index. Below is a chart from the National Weather Service indicating the levels of the heat index.
What To Do When A Heat Wave Hits
Being physically active outdoors during extreme heat comes with risk and is not recommended. It can cause dehydration and overheating, even hospitalization. Does this mean you must stay indoors during the entire time there is a heat wave? Absolutely not. Take precautions before heading outdoors, however, and limit your physical activity time as well as exertion.
- Stay hydrated.
- Avoid the hottest part of the day – 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Take it slow and don’t push yourself too hard.
- Wear light and breathable clothing that is loose-fitting.
- Take frequent breaks and head indoors to cool off adequately.
- Let someone know you’re heading outside to workout.
Beat The Heat – And Injury
Heat-related hospitalizations and injuries are completely preventable by taking the right precautions. Furthermore, if you can avoid physical activity outdoors during an excessive heat warning, that’s always the recommended choice. Don’t take the chance of an ER visit or an injury because you wanted to test your heat endurance. It could lead to a summer of couch time and even hospital time. Stay safe during the summer by taking it slow, cooling down, and staying hydrating when the heat index soars.