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Weather Prep: Sunny Days

Starting off our series on weather is the most deceptive of weather conditions: the sunny day. What could possibly go wrong when the sun is out during an outdoor event? While it may seem like no prep is necessary, there are still a few issues you may want to keep an eye on.

Heat

The sun is out but the temperature is high. Your participants are ready to get sweaty from exertion - not from standing around waiting for the event to begin. Prepare for heat with sheltered locations for participants to cool off if necessary. Always recommend sunscreen and monitoring reapplication times, especially if event attendees are drinking alcohol, sweating, or participating in water sports.

Look out for heat injuries - sunburns, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. If heat injuries occur, keep the patients cool and replenish their electrolytes.

Photokeratitis

What's that? Photokeratitis is essentially a sunburn on the eye caused by overexposure to UV rays. A sunny day, even a cloudy day, requires proper eye protection. Additionally, water, sand, snow, and ice can reflect the sun’s rays. In fact, photokeratitis is often called snow blindness by skiers, who will wear goggles to prevent it. Sunglasses with ultraviolet (UV) protection can help prevent this condition. Plus, everyone looks slightly cooler in sunglasses.

Loose Soil

While the days of yelling, "eat dirt" at a race may be long gone, the possibility of actually eating dirt remains. During races, athletic events, and concerts on dry days, particles will be kicked up when people move across soft pack soil or sand. Encourage participants to wear sunglasses and even mouth protection - particles can be absorbed into the lungs and create a mud sludge which causes respiratory problems. It's not tasty and potentially very dangerous.

Dehydration and Overhydration

Participants should drink water when thirsty. While that may seem obvious, remember that for every two bottles of water, electrolyte replacement is also important. Electrolytes are minerals that the body loses when you sweat. Since water does not offer electrolyte replacements, sports drinks and electrolyte pills can be given to participants.

While dehydration is an issue commonly seen on sunny days, the opposite can also occur. Hyponatremia, or overhydration, is a result of the common belief that water should be consumed constantly on a warm day, whether participants are thirsty or not. It is only necessary to drink water when thirsty. Hyponatremia results in a lack of sodium, which can lead to cramping and greater medical issues. Another side effect may be hypokalemia (a lack of potassium), which can cause heart issues and rhabdomyolysis - the disintegration of muscle tissue.

Preparation in Case the Weather Changes

While you may wish for the perfect sunny day to never end, sometimes weather conditions can change quickly. Monitor the weather with a program like Weather Tap, which provides the same information that the FAA uses (live Doppler radar, real time conditions, lightning strikes, etc.) Update the head of the event every hour with weather conditions - temperature, wind speed, humidity, and any potential dangers.

Enjoy the nice weather but always be alert to issues associated with the sun, dry weather, and heat. Also, remember that the weather can change abruptly so be prepared.

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