Heat-related emergencies on rise in Zion National Park; heat safety tips

ZION NATIONAL PARK – A busy weekend continues for emergency responders at Zion National Park.

Despite recent hazardous weather alerts warning of dangerously high temperatures, Zion has been packed with visitors who are hiking, biking and otherwise recreating within the park under a hot summer sun. Physical exertion in the stifling temperatures has already led to many heat-related emergency calls in Zion.

READ MORE: Heat can kill, getting lost can be fatal; how to survive the heat, be found when you’re lost or in distress

Park officials received approximately six heat-related emergency calls Friday alone, Zion National Park Public Information Officer Aly Baltrus said, and the hot weekend was just getting started.

“Somewhere between 11 (a.m.) and 12 it’s been hitting at a hundred (degrees),” Baltrus said. “Anything above that is just really, really difficult, especially if you’re not used to it.”

Visitors to the park during this hot weather are encouraged to start early in the morning – as early as they can manage to get there, Baltrus said. When the heat is high, parkgoers should conclude their hiking and other outdoor activities between 11 a.m. and noon, or at least be heading back down by 11 a.m.

“As early as you can get up and get out here, the better,” Baltrus said.

Most people know you should bring water with you when recreating in the heat, she added, but consuming salt is also important.

“(They should) bring snacks with them, not just water,” Baltrus said.

Heat smart

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, people are more likely to feel the effects of heat faster if they are unused to high temperatures and high humidity; are obese; are exercising in the heat, even if they are in good physical shape; or are already ill from another cause or have been injured. Children and older adults have high susceptibility to heat-related illness.

The following factors make it more difficult for the body to regulate temperatures and increase the likelihood of a heat emergency occurring, according to the National Library of Medicine:

  • Drinking alcohol before or during exposure to heat or high humidity
  • Not drinking enough fluids when you’re active on warmer or hot days
  • Heart disease
  • Certain medicines: Examples are beta blockers; water pills or diuretics; and some medicines used to treat depression, psychosis or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Sweat gland problems
  • Wearing too much clothing

Additional safety tips as well as signs and symptoms of heat illness and first aid guidance can be found here.


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