4/23/2013 5:00:00 PM Time to prepare for summer in Quartzsite
QUARTZSITE - As those who live in the desert all know, these past few months have been getting warmer and even with the few days of reprieve to cooler temperatures in between, we know what is coming.
By this time next month locals will be seeing the beginnings of perhaps the harshest season here in the desert. Those who have been living here all their lives, or at least for many years, have probably adapted to the heat over the years by learning to do things that will make their lives a little easier during the very extreme heat we get.
Last summer was one of the hottest on record for this area since they started keeping records. There were over 100 days of 100 degrees and above and it really didn't start cooling off until late October -very late for this area.
Trends in weather have been changing and becoming more extreme all around the world and there is nothing that can be done about it except try to get through it as comfortable and healthy as you can.
Some people who are new to this part of the country and have never spent their summers here are in for a big surprise when it does come. They may need some ideas to help them and some advice on how to survive in the heat.
One of the first things we learned when we moved here was to make sure to keep water with you at all times, especially during the hot summer months. You can get very dehydrated in just hours if you are not drinking enough water. Keep several jugs in your vehicles in case you break down and carry a water bottle or canteen with you at all times when you are walking anywhere.
Some people take store-bought water bottles or small plastic jugs with lids and fill them 3/4 full of water then put them in their freezer. Just fill with water after freezing and it will melt slowly all day to give you cold water - great during the heat.
Try to keep to water or Gatorade-type drinks and not sodas that have sugar and will just make you thirstier.
Light clothing is always best if you are outdoors but you should also have a long-sleeved light shirt over anything as a way of covering your arms from the sun or you might get burned if your skin is not used to the heat here. Layering clothing is always a good way to keep from perspiring too much and losing your nutrients through evaporation.
Be sure to have your feet covered and have good shoes (sandals are okay but not for walking in the desert). Always check your shoes and shake them out before putting them on in case some small critters got into them. Scorpions, spiders, etc. are all out now and look for cooler, darker places to hide, so check your house out regularly - dryer sheets, moth balls, bay leaves and other home remedies might help you without having to use chemicals in your cupboards, closets, etc.
Snakes are out now and even after dark. Check your patio or area near your outside if you are going out as it is their time to hunt after dark and it is usually cooler on cement than dirt. Remember, they don't want to bother you but if they feel threatened they will coil and strike.
Keep a stick with you when walking around the desert - it may help get you away from anything that you come across.
Also, if you have a pet, be extra careful this time of year if they are outdoors as well. Some critters come around your place looking for water or food and you don't want your favorite friend to suffer from snake bite or scorpion sting.
Listen and look out for coyotes as well since they have been known to come after your pets.
You should never think of hiking or walking around in the desert by yourself - it is better if you have someone else with you in case you find trouble. If you do go out for a hike, make sure to let someone else know where you are going and how long you plan to be away.
If you are driving and break down, stay with your vehicle - it is easier to see from the air than a lone person in the desert. Make sure if you plan to do a lot of traveling in the area that you put together an emergency kit with flashlights, warm clothes, matches or lighter, mirror, GPS or cell phone, non-perishable food items, bandages, sunscreen etc. and any other thing you might need to have if you should get lost or break down.
It is not a good idea to take your dog out into the desert in the heat of the summer as they can tire easily and may be disoriented and too heavy to carry back if they get injured or suffer from sunstroke. Same for you. And never leave a dog in your vehicle on hot days - even with the windows down it still gets over a 100 degrees in minutes and can result in their deaths. This is especially true for children as well as pets and it is against the law.
One of the hardest things residents have to deal with during the summer is the monsoon season - not that anyone doesn't love the rain that's so badly needed -but experience has shown that almost every year that huge storms that rock the area in July and August brings not just rain but very high winds, that may cause major power outages. If you have medical problems or need power for medical machinery, be sure to let someone know so that you can be taken to the emergency shelters and cooling places.
Isaiah 58 and the First Assembly of God Church in Quartzsite and senior citizen centers and other places have backup emergency generators so you can let them know and they can help you.
Be sure that you do not drive through any wash or low area along the roads if there is flooding - you can get swept away in just a few feet of water and you don't know what is underneath the raging river. If you should get stuck across a running wash and have to get rescued, there is a "stupid motorist law" in effect that will cost you financially for your rescue if it was your fault for crossing when you shouldn't have.
The rescue people put their lives at risk to help stranded motorists who have made the decision to try to cross a raging wash and it costs them not just their time and efforts but their health and well being, and also takes them away from other calls that may be very important.
These are just some of the things that might help you get through the heat that is definitely coming whether anyone wants it or not. Just use caution in whatever you do and wherever you are and remember, water, water, water. Have a safe and happy summer.