Outdoor adventure season is in full swing here in the valley. Whether it’s a day trip to the Wind Cave up Darby Canyon or an overnight camp-out in the Alaska Basin, our options are seemingly endless when it comes to hitting the trails.
Our high elevation, combined with long sunny days and stretches of temperatures in the 70s, 80s and 90s can pose some risk for unprepared adventure seekers.
Regardless if you plan to go for an hour or a day, it’s important to make a few key preparations.
First, always bring water on your trips. In warm months, hikers/bikers/climbers/runners should drink approximately one gallon of water per day, but that can vary based on your individual needs. In direct sunlight and with physical exertion, your fluid/electrolyte loss can happen faster than under cooler conditions. Sweat evaporates instantly in dry climates like ours, so it’s important to pay attention to any signs your body might need hydration. If hiking with children, pay attention to the water in their water bottles to make sure they are drinking enough and at an appropriate frequency. Ditto for dogs. Don’t plan on finding sufficient watering holes for dogs to lap up; bring water for the pooches and remember that dogs are exerting energy while wearing fur coats. Also be aware that dogs may not stop to drink water at a creek or pond if their human partner is bike riding or running at a steady pace. You may have to stop and relax before your dog feels that he can take a break and lap up some water.
Second, dress in layers and loose-fitting, lightweight clothing to avoid heat exhaustion. Seek out shaded areas when hiking, and avoid sunburns. Also, if you are taking any medications, ask your doctor whether the medications could make you more susceptible to heat exhaustion or sunburn.
Third, bring a friend or family member along for the trip and avoid strenuous activity in the middle of the day, when the sun and heat are at their highest points.
Generally, by the time you are thirsty, you’re already somewhat dehydrated. To avoid this, drink 1/2 to 1 quart of water or electrolyte drink for every hour you hike.
Although most instances of dehydration are mild or moderate and can be easily resolved by drinking fluids, severe dehydration can also occur. Signs of a serious problem include little or no urination, extreme dry mouth and skin, confusion, rapid heart-beat and unconsciousness. Severe dehydration is a medical emergency.
Like any good Scout, you need to be prepared. Water, sunscreen, good shoes, weather outlooks, and good directions should form the basis of every summer outing.
Dr. Nathan Levanger is a family practice physician offering patient care at Driggs Health Clinic located in Driggs Idaho.
I’ve been quiet on the blog lately and usually when I’m quiet, it’s because something has happened that must be processed through my 5 phases of Realization:
Rationalization aka Flimsy Excuse-making
Acceptance along with inner scolding
Realization = moving forward, along with occasional bursts of inner scolding
The reality is this: I did not meet my wellness goal of lowering my BMI. In fact, I’ve stayed exactly the same in terms of BMI.
Ms. Disbelief says, I can’t believe 12 months have gone by!
If I’d shown some willpower, I’d be in great shape today says the Scolder.
At least my BMI didn’t get worse, according to Rationalizing Ann.
It’s my own fault for not taking this seriously, now I need to commit and try again.
Realization: I have the tools, I know what I need to do, I’ve learned a lot about what motivates me and now I’ll put it all together and succeed. I can’t continue to be a busted flush ne’er do well.
There’s a little trick I play on myself that’s worth about 100,000 calories. (This is top secret information.) This is what happens: Let’s pretend I’ve had a good day of exercising and eating well. I praise myself. I prowl around the kitchen, making a mental list of the locations of all of the high calorie foods. Then, I wait for my husband and teenagers to clear out. When the coast is clear, I quietly pocket a cookie, scarf a spoonful of ice cream, or chug a chocolate milk. Then I scoot off, almost smug in my knowledge that I’ve gotten away with it again!
And what exactly have I gotten away with? NOTHING. While I’ve been able to host secret hoovering sessions, the resulting pounds are visible to everyone. Somehow, eating non-healthy foods in private is similar to the belief that breaking up a cookie into small pieces reduces the caloric intake: No witnesses, no calories. It never happened folks! My capacity for magical thinking is boundless.
Over the past month, I’ve been declining unhealthy foods and replacing them with better choices. I’ve skipped the cinnamon rolls and taken the watermelon slices instead. I’ve made myself get out and walk more, do more yard work and generally be wiser about how I spend my hours. I KNOW what I need to do, I’ve LEARNED how to build and use the tools toward better health, and having that knowledge is simply not enough.
If you’ve been following my blog, you know how much I like quotes. Here’s a good one by Legouvé “To live is not to learn, but to apply.”
Disclaimer: This blog discusses my personal wellness goals and is in no way a soapbox to tell anyone else how to eat, exercise and/or live their lives.
With the weather warm and the sun shining, now is the time of year for cleaning up the yard, decluttering the house, and digging into old boxes and attics to make space.
While this summer cleaning is music to garage sale lovers’ ears, you can sometimes get more than you bargained for when you finally get to that corner of boxes in your basement or barn.
In Teton Valley, it’s common to find evidence of rodents taking up residence in your long-forgotten possessions, and this can put you at risk for a very serious illness: Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS).
As of April, 639 cases of HPS had been reported throughout the U.S. this year, with Idaho, Wyoming and Utah reporting 21, 11 and 33 incidences respectively. HPS is more common in rural areas, and it can be fatal.
The virus is transmitted to humans most commonly when we breathe in air contaminated by the virus, which is carried by mice, including deer mice common to this area as well as white-footed mice, cotton rats, and rice rats. We are susceptible to breathing in tiny droplets of the virus when we disturb droppings, urine or nesting materials of infected mice. We can also contract HPS if we are bitten by an infected rodent or by eating food contaminated in some way by the virus. It is important to note, however, that not every mouse is infected with HPS.
People are more likely to contract HPS if they:
Open and clean long unused buildings or sheds
Houseclean, particularly in attics and other low-traffic areas
Have a home or work space infested by rodents
Have a job that involves exposure to rodents
Camp, hike or hunt in the wilderness
The Centers for Disease Control reports that symptoms of HPS can develop between 1 and 5 weeks after exposure to fresh urine, droppings or saliva of infected rodents. Early symptoms include:
Fatigue, fever and muscle aches, especially in the larger muscle groups such as the thighs, hips and back
Headaches, dizziness, chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain
Late symptoms, which can occur 4 to 10 days after the initial phase of the illness, include coughing and shortness of breath.
The loss of breath is caused by the lungs filling with fluid, which can be fatal. As well, blood pressure will begin to drop and ultimately organs will begin to fail. The Mayo Clinic reports the mortality rate for the North American variety of HPS at more than 30 percent.
See your provider if you experience any of the symptoms above or if you suspect you may have contracted hantavirus.
Treatment can include hospitalization and assisted respiration through intubation or mechanical ventilation. In rare cases, blood oxygenation may also be used.
The best way to stay free of hantavirus is to minimize contact with rodents in your home, workplace or campsite. You can do this by sealing up holes inside and outside of your home to keep rodents out, trapping rodents around your home to reduce their population and taking precautions when cleaning rodent-infested areas.
These precautions are:
Wear disposable gloves
Wet down dead rodents and areas where they have been with alcohol, household disinfectants or bleach.
Follow that by disinfecting the area with a mop or sponge
Wear a respirator if you are cleaning heavily infested areas