Midwestern Wanderlog

2016-06-10 – It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity

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Actually, it’s both.

Sunrise Stats!
First light: 4:49 AM
Sunrise: 5:26 AM
Daylight: 16 hrs, 43 min

It’s going to be a Minnesota summer day today.  Even though the temperature this morning was no more than mid-sixties – even when exposed to the breeze on the top of the Bluff – any Minnesota native could already tell; there was that humid haze in the distance and the oppressive feel to the air.

I work in a factory; the building isn’t air conditioned, and within the thin aluminum walls reside eighteen CNC mills of various sizes, all busily machining away, following their programs with precision.  Each of them has a tank of coolant; mostly water, but with enough oil for lubrication of the tools that are cutting into the metal.  Even on a cool day – even in the winter – the building is already humid, made so by the constant addition of evaporating coolant, and made warm by the radiant heat of the running motors.

_MG_0618Now multiply that by ninety-plus-degree heat beating down on the metal roof and over ninety percent humidity in the air; the heat index in that building is well up over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  And even with fans blowing, the air is oppressively still.

Sounds like a good time to go over how a person stays upright and functioning in the sauna that is a Minnesota summer day.

Now, like staying frostbite-free in the winter, keeping yourself from heat exhaustion, heat prostration, or heat stroke just takes a bit of knowledge, and some common sense.

Take care of yourself
  1. Drink water, volumes of it.  And yes, I do mean water.  Soda is all well and good for something fun and sweet to drink, and so are those brightly-colored sugar drinks that end in ‘ade’ and purport to replenish electrolytes, but neither can reproduce the hydrating effects of good ol’ water.  And that’s what your body truly craves, what it needs.
  2. Eat regularly.  One of the first casualties of high heat and humidity is appetite.  If you’ve been active in the heat, resist the temptation to skip a meal or two.  You’re sweating out sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, as well as lactic acid and urea (urea is what’s left behind after digesting protein, and it’s usually removed from the blood by the kidneys).  You need to replace all those elements, and you don’t get them from water.
  3. _MG_0631Rest periodically, even if you don’t think you need to.
  4. PEE!!  This is the one that most people don’t talk about, but frankly, it’s one of the most important parts of staying healthy in summer’s heat.  If you aren’t heading to the restroom as regularly as you do on any other day, then YOU AREN’T DRINKING ENOUGH and you need to go guzzle some water!!
Know the signs

There are several levels of heat illness.  WebMD lists them, and their signs, in order of severity.  And OSHA not only has the symptoms, but also what to do in each case.

Stay out of direct sunlight as much as possible

Wear a hat and light, loose-fitting clothing, light in both texture to help your skin breathe and allow your sweat to evaporate, and color, to reflect the sun’s rays.  And try to stay in areas of good air flow, if you can.  Oh, and if you’re in the field taking photos, make sure you’ve got a good sunscreen both with you and on you, if you catch my meaning!

Stay sensible, stay healthy, and happy shooting!

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