Heat Tough on Weekend Gardeners

first_imgWeekend gardeners who work in air-conditioned offices or homes all week may get hithard by summer heat. They just aren’t used to it.”Gardeners need to be in good shape for the heat, just like athletes,” saidWayne McLaurin, a horticulturist with the University of Georgia Extension Service.The human body needs time to adapt to working in the heat, whether you’re running amarathon or weeding petunias. And you can’t rush the process.”The body needs to adapt to levels of work and heat,” McLaurin said. “Asit adapts, it improves the stability of the circulatory system and the balance of salt inthe body. Don’t assume if you’re physically fit, you can work in the heat easily. But youshould adapt more quickly than those who are out-of-shape.”When you’re used to the heat, your body temperature and heart rate rise less and yousweat more. You may not necessarily work better at higher temperatures and humidities whenyou’re used to it. But you’ll be able to work in heat you would otherwise findintolerable, McLaurin said.”When the body becomes overheated, less blood goes to the active muscles, thebrain and internal organs,” McLaurin said. “You get weaker, become tired sooner,you’re less alert and your judgment may become impaired.”As strain from heat grows more severe, your body temperature and heart rate can risefast. Workers may not realize the problem because they feel no pain. But a 2-degree risein body temperature can affect mental abilities. A 5-degree increase can cause seriousillness.”Tailor your acclimatizing period to suit the type of work, the clothing, theworker and the climate,” McLaurin said. “A gardener can start working in theheat for around two hours with a break after the first hour. Moderate to heavy work willrequire a shorter work period.”Use common sense when you’re working in the heat. Some things to remember:* Make sure you drink enough water to replace body fluid lost through sweating. Yourbody can become overheated long before you feel thirsty. Water or fruit juices replacefluids quickly.* Gradually adjust to working in the heat.* Take breaks in a shaded or air-conditioned place whenever you can.* Check the temperature and humidity at least hourly and monitor your response to theheat.* The danger of heat stress increases with higher temperature and humidity and withdirect sunlight.* Design your work so you can do one task in the sun and the next in a shady place ifyou can.* Younger, well-rested and physically fit workers are less likely to suffer heatillness than other workers. But even workers in good shape can become seriously ill fromheat. * Many drugs, including alcohol and cold and allergy medications containingantihistamines, increase the risk of heat illness. Check the label for sun exposureinformation.”When the temperature climbs to 95 degrees, restrict your gardening to 40 minuteswith a break of 20 minutes,” McLaurin said. “And take advantage of a gardenbench. Many people work so hard growing things but they forget to sit down and enjoy thebeauty.”last_img

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