There’s a beautiful thing that happens when Winter turns into Spring. The snow melts. The weather gets better. And, best of all, flowers and plants begin to bloom–which puts us in a position to tend to them in our gardens. While plants thrive in sunlight, humans can’t always take the heat. While you’re pruning, planting, or whacking weeds, here are a few heat safety tips to help make sure you keep your cool while gardening.
One of the main causes of heat stroke is when someone has not acclimated properly to hotter temperatures. As the seasons change, it’s a good idea to gradually get yourself used to the heat. Start with short periods of time working outside. Then, every day, gradually increase that amount of time. Little by little, you’ll become more and more acclimatized and will be able to spend an entire afternoon in your garden.
Follow the early bird.
Start your gardening as early as possible to avoid the hottest parts of the day. Not only will you have more shade and cooler temperatures, but you can also get more done and get back to enjoying the rest of your day. Plants benefit from early morning watering so they can soak in the hydration before the afternoon sun starts heating things up. And, when you start working in the early morning, you’ll be more likely to see creatures enjoying your garden, like birds and butterflies.
Alternatively, you can also beat the heat by waiting until after the mid-day sun has lowered in the sky. With afternoon gardening, you can still enjoy being outside, without suffering through the hottest part of the day. Be strategic and you can avoid overheating while still maintaining the beauty of your garden.
The shade is your friend.
When it comes to outdoor gardening, shade can help you survive the heat. So use it wisely. If you have a parasol or outdoor umbrella, prop it up so that it covers the area in which you are working. By blocking the sun from hitting you directly, you are decreasing the risk of heat-related issues like heat stroke.
If an umbrella is too cumbersome, get yourself a wide-brimmed hat. This added protection can make the difference when you’re working outside. A hat can not only keep you cool but can also prevent you from getting sunburned.
Keep yourself hydrated.
Always have cold water on hand if you’re planning on spending time outside working in the garden. This is one of the easiest and quickest ways to reduce the risk of overheating. When you’re outside, exerting yourself in hot temperatures, your body sweats. And that sweat causes dehydration. Keeping yourself hydrated will make it easier on your body, and can reduce soreness and aching. There are also alternatives to water that can help maintain hydration, like sports drinks or lemon water with a pinch of salt. These can help quench your thirst and keep your fluids at a healthy level.
Lighten up your wardrobe.
For gardening or any other outdoor work, it’s always advisable to wear light-colored, loose clothing to avoid overheating. When clothing is too tight, it doesn’t allow the air to circulate. You want to create air-flow while you’re working outside so that your perspiration can evaporate.
Give yourself a break… or two.
The main way to ensure you don’t overheat is to give yourself plenty of breaks. Take time to let yourself recover with a few moments in the shade or to run inside and have a glass of cold water. Frequent breaks will help break out the day’s work and give you the strength and energy needed to keep going.
Protect yourself from the elements.
Just like a hat can help cover you from the sun, it is also important to wear sunscreen. Protect yourself from the harsh UV rays that can cause added discomfort or exhaustion when working outdoors. It’s also a good idea to use insect repellant to ensure you’re protected from unwelcome mosquitos and other bugs.
Find ways to cool yourself off.
While the time of day, shade, and loose clothes are effective for preventing overheating, there are still other methods that can help cool you off. Fans help circulate air which can be helpful on a hot summer day to dry you off if you’ve worked up a sweat. There are also cooling towels like MISSION’s Hydroactive Max Cooling Towels that can instantly lower your body temperature and cool you off. You can also keep cool by taking a quick dip in the pool after a hot day of gardening.
Know when to call it quits.
When gardening or doing any outdoor work, it’s always important to know your limits. Overexertion is what leads to more serious issues like heat stroke, which require medical attention. Become familiar with the symptoms of heat stroke like lightheadedness and nausea, so that you can immediately take action if you start to feel them. Know when to stop gardening and leave it for another day.
Just a little preparation can go a long way. Take necessary precautions and you’ll be outside enjoying your garden in no time.