By Gary A. McCollum
It’s officially “Summertime” and one of my favorite times of year to fish. It can be a difficult time to spend the entire day on the water when temperatures can easily get into triple digits. One hazard many fishermen (women) think about is heat related illness.
Your body is amazing! A body normally cools itself through sweat evaporation. In other words, your body produces sweat through your pores and a heat transfer takes place as the sweat evaporates cooling your body. In Louisiana, we have unusually high humidity levels that can prevent that evaporation and make a person feel even hotter. Dehydration can occur rather quickly resulting in a very bad day.
Your body temperature can rise to dangerous levels and you can develop a heat illness. Most heat related illnesses occur from staying out in the heat/sun for too long. Age and physical condition will play a major factor. Older adults, young children and those who aren’t quite at their physical peak are the most at risk.
To identify a heat illness or the oncoming of a heat related illness isn’t very difficult if you know what to look for. Symptoms include: Heavy sweating, flushed face, heat rash (bumps), muscle cramps and or spasms, rapid breathing and a fast/weak pulse. These symptoms are telling you to get the boat on plane, cool off immediately and get into some shade or A/C. Give the affected person plenty of water.
In extreme cases this can evolve into a life-threatening situation leading to heat stroke. Symptoms of heat stroke include a lack of sweating, dry skin, flushed face, rapid strong pulse and dizziness. A person’s body temperature can increase to exceed 106° in a matter of no time.
Just like everything in our hobby/passion, proper planning can lead to a successful day on the water. Here are a few things that we can do to avoid a heat related illness while on the water:
1. Avoid alcoholic beverages the evening prior to going after your next wall hanger
2. Use a good sunblock and avoid sunburn
3. Wear a breathable hat
4. Drink plenty of fluids. 1 beverage with electrolytes to 4 bottles of water
5. Drink water every 15 minutes (even if you’re not thirsty)
6. Wear loose fitting, lightweight, light colored clothing (some have a great sun blocking capability)
7. If your taking medications, take extra precautions (contact your physician)
8. Avoid hot spots
9. Attempt to allow your body to acclimate to higher temperatures (especially if you have AC addictions)
It’s especially important to keep an eye on yourself and how you feel if fishing solo. If you have a partner fishing with you, keep an eye out on each other. It’s also interesting to note that once a person develops a heat related illness, they are more susceptible to a repeat of the incident.
Summer fishing can be extremely rewarding with extended hours of sunlight. We can catch the fish of our dreams on the very next cast. Just do some planning and prevention and we can all ensure we have plenty more casts to make.
Stay Safe and Tight Lines