We're in the middle of a heat wave in the U.S., with index temperatures reaching up into 115 in the next week. As riders, it’s important not to become overheated while on two wheels, which can be difficult when temperatures stretch into the 90s and stopping for water seems like a chore. Heat exhaustion biologically affects us similarly to alcohol, causing extreme dehydration, disorientation and loss of consciousness. Learn the warning signs and symptoms to prevent and address heat emergencies while riding.
|Image source: pixabay|
Heat stress typically affects us in three stages:
- Heat Cramps: Are often in response to the loss of salt and water while sweating. They typically feel like muscle spasms and stiffness in the abdomen, arms and calves.
Remedy: Drink water and seek a cool area.
- Heat Exhaustion: A more serious stage of dehydration and mineral depletion. Symptoms include dizziness, blurred vision, headaches, cramps, cool and clammy skin, dilated pupils, vomiting, shallow rapid breathing and loss of consciousness.
Remedy: Find a cool area immediately, drink as much as possible in small amounts (except if vomiting), remove excess clothing especially around the neck and waist, rest in the shock position (with legs raised), seek medical attention immediately.
- Heatstroke (Sunstroke): A life-threatening condition. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 600 people die from heatstroke every year in the United States. Typically classified when body temperatures reach above 105 F, heatstroke symptoms include headache, dizziness, lack of sweating, hot skin, restlessness, vomiting, convulsions, weak pulse and eventually death.
Remedy: Seek medical care immediately. If you have ice packs or cool materials, place them in blood vessel dense areas such as the back, armpits, groin and neck.
Any symptoms of overheating can be dangerous, and the best defense is good preparation. While riding, stop frequently for breaks and fluids, and avoid alcohol, caffeine, and high-sugar drinks that can also cause dehydration. Keep skin covered, and if you frequently ride in hot areas, consider buying gear with cooling technology such as a mesh suit, gel vest or partial perforated materials for all-weather riding.
|A perforated suit helping me not melt at a track day in July. Photo Credit: Jim Lilly at Zone Photo|
At Hupy and Abraham, S.C., we promote having fun while staying safe. Stay cool this summer, and help spread the motorcycle awareness message by ordering your free Watch For Motorcycles sticker here.