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Stay safe outdoors in hot weather

  • 6/12/2018 2:51:00 PM
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There are many adventure-packed, outdoor summer activities to do in the sun, but it is crucial for your safety to know the proper precautions to avoid heat-related illnesses.

Heat is one of the leading weather-related killers in the U.S., with more than 600 fatalities each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. However, there are plenty of things you can do to prevent being beat by the heat.

No matter what you are doing, one thing remains constant: drink plenty of water. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to reach for a drink. Proper hydration keeps your body fueled and able to power through scorching summer days.

Here are some activity-specific tips for when you find yourself in the outdoor heat:

Stay safe in the heat while still enjoying the outdoors - 4 tips from Iowa DNRCamping

Think about the placement of your tent when you’re setting it up. Pitch it in the shadiest spot on the campsite to avoid direct sunlight. Position the side of your tent with the most screen to be facing the wind for maximum circulation. Do not place the rain cover over your tent because although it will create shade, it will also trap heat inside the tent, raising temperatures to possibly dangerous levels.

If you can skip the tent completely, opt for a hammock (where allowed) or a mosquito cot tent for the coolest camping experience.


When planning for a hike, consider what you’re going to wear. Lightweight, loosely fitting, light-colored clothing is your best bet to beat the heat. Wide brim hats are especially useful for keeping your upper body shaded and cool. Don’t forget to bring plenty of sunscreen and water along with you!

Pro tip: soak a bandana or cloth in cool water and wrap it around your neck or head for extra relief.


When you’re out on the lake, it may sound refreshing to reach for a cold one, but boating and alcohol don’t mix. The sun and heat combine to enhance the effects of alcohol, hindering one's ability to make decisions. Boaters’ ability to navigate can greatly affect the safety of others on board and in the area.

Naturally, boating traffic increases in the warmer months, so it’s important to review boater safety instructions. Check the weather forecast before you leave the dock. Severe storms can develop rapidly in warm, moist air, so be sure to keep an eye on the sky and have weather alerts on your phone – or bring a battery-operated weather radio.

If you are operating a manual-powered vessel, like a kayak or canoe, the proper clothing and materials on board will keep you paddling all day long. Wearing a full-brim breathable hat is important for eyes, face, ears and neck sun protection. Bring plenty of water on board and a snack or two, depending on how long you plan to be out on the water.

Just remember...

No matter what you are doing outdoors, it is important to wear sunscreen to prevent sunburn. Take breaks in the shade when you are feeling tired and allow your body time to regain strength.

Never do strenuous outdoor activities alone. If possible, limit your time outside to the cooler parts of the day.

Know the signs of heat stroke, like a fever, lack of sweating and a strong, rapid pulse, so you know when to get someone the help they need.

The heat doesn’t have to prevent you from enjoying the outdoors. Just be sure to take the proper precautions and know your limits when in the heat.

Stay safe in the heat while still enjoying the outdoors - 4 tips from Iowa DNR