It is summertime. Not according to the calendar but in Texas, for all practical purposes, it is. So, I thought I would touch on a summer safety issue, Heat Exhaustion (HE). Many of us have been dehydrated countless times and have called it “heat stroke" (HS). I learned the difference this weekend between dehydration and HS/HE.
Yesterday I did about 5 miles of kayaking on LRR and exited the activity with no complications. It was in the mid 80’s, partly cloudy, nice breeze. All in all not the kind of weather you would associate with HE. However, over the next several hours I got a headache, cramps, hot dry skin, ringing in my ears, clumsy, my arms and legs seem to weigh a ton and I was shivering in an 80 degree house. During this period I drank maybe a gallon of water. The shivering was what got me scared. In the past I have only shivered when cold, duh, or running a fever. I took my temp, orally for anyone curious, and it turned out I was running a fever of about 100 and a half degrees. The whole time HE or HS was In the back of my mind. I had never felt like this. It was like the flu without the cold-like symptoms.
By now I should have carried myself into the Emergency Room. Instead, I got online and started researching HS & HE. Everything I read pretty much suggested I do the same thing. One of the simplest descriptions was “virus like symptoms with the absence of sneezing or runny nose, sometimes with no fever or a fever up to 107 degrees.” My saving grace was that I had been drinking water all day and most of all was the little bit of congealed dry Gatorade mix I remembered in the middle of the night. Almost the instant I drank the Gatorade I began sweating. Avery good sign, probably the only reason I did not go to the ER. Apparently water is not enough. There I went, not believing the corporate hype again.
By 3am my fever had broken and I felt much better. Monday was a long work day lugging around my 2000 pound appendages and a ringing melon.
As I dissect the day I found a few places where I went wrong:
1. Diet coke for lunch. I actually went for the fountain PowerAde but it was dispensing with carbonated water and it tasted pretty bad.
2. One beer. It is customary to drink a malted beverage upon completion of a manly endeavor. I may pass on this custom in the future. Beer flavored PowerAde?
3. I stayed outside after I began to feel sluggish.
4. Heavy lunch. 1/3 pound burger with fries & crispito.
5. Hot shower. I bathed when I got home. I am sure the steamy hot shower did nothing to help my overheated body.
6. I did not consider the increased humidity of that day.
However, I am not a total idiot, I did do a few things right:
1. I wore a hat.
2. I slathered 45 S.P.F. sun-block on every square inch of skin.
3. I wore light colored clothes.
4. I drank about 1.5 liters of water over a 3 hour period. An acceptable amount for the conditions.
5. We took multiple breaks and never pushed it too hard.
So why am I telling a boating story in the Motorcycle blog? The physical factors on the lake were not that different than what is widely considered to be optimal riding conditions. Factor in engine heat, full riding gear and the 70 MPH breeze and the rider could get into trouble sooner than the three hours it took me on the lake. Rowing a 52 pound kayak on the open water may not be any more exerting than rowing your 500 pound sport bike or 700 pound cruiser through the many turns on the devils backbone in the Texas hill country.