Wow, where did Spring go? Don't know about you, but Summer is here way too early for me! It's been in the 90's for several days now in North Georgia and is an "uncomfortable warm". I used to dread this time of year. It always meant my hunting club "work days" were just around the corner. When I was young it wasn't that big a deal - or so I thought. I certainly had my days of dread that comes with the heat.
Here are my tips to help you stay comfortable and safe during the hot days of summer:
1. Restrict your work hours. Wake up early and get done as much as you can during the cool of the morning. When it begins to heat up reduce the amount of physical work you need to do. I used to try to work club tree stands early, then do less strenuous "trail trimming" in late morning and early afternoon. Once temperatures start to cool in the evening you might want to finish up work you began in the early hours.
2. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Nothing is more important than keeping a cooler full of ice cold beverages. Restrict your fluids to water and electrolyte restoring drinks. Keep the alcohol for later, after the work is done.
3. Know and respect the signs of heat stress. Sweating is nature's air conditioning; the sweat evaporates in the heat, cooling our bodies. Be aware of when you stop sweating. No sweat means no evaporation and your body temperature will rise and will result in heat stress or worse. A cold, clammy feeling is also an indication that the body has stopped cooling and if you begin to feel light heated or dizzy, immediately find a cool place and drink plenty of fluids. There is no sense in risking our health trying to prove we are not limited in our physical labors by the heat.
4. If you're climbing trees to work on stands be aware of what may be growing on the tree or the stand. More than once I've had bouts of poison ivy or oak just by not paying attention. I was also witness to a fellow hunter taking a high dive off a stand when he discovered the red wasps that had build a nest in the stand were not very happy to have him intrude. Be sure to also check whatever method you use to climb to stands to ensure it is safe and secure and by all means, don't rely on tree branches as a step. It goes without saying that we should never climb to our stands or work in them without a safety harness.
5. Snakes and ground dwelling insects continue to be active during summer months. Because the greenery has grown through the spring you will find it knee high or more. Take your time when walking through thick grass or other greenery and be on the lookout for the pests that may be lurking close by. Wear long pants and high top boots. Chiggers ("red bugs") and ticks are also very active and love nothing more than to find fresh meat. Use appropriate spray to keep the bugs away.
6. Protect your skin. Always use a high SPF rated sun tan lotion to protect your skin from excessive exposure to the sun. Reapply frequently as sweat will wash it off. Wear head covering that not only protects the face, but the neck and ears. While working in long pants and long sleeved shirts may be uncomfortable in the heat, it's much less uncomfortable than dealing with a severe sunburn or worse, skin cancer.
While these tips are addressing work you might be involved with in the deer woods, the same rules apply if you are on the water or working in the backyards at home. Take time to ensure your safety by preparing and using good sense when working in the heat.