I heard a weather forecast mention that we would be in the 100 degree temperatures this week. It also emphasized we were actually a couple of weeks later than normal in reaching the triple-digit mark for the year. It’s always somewhat startling to hear that it’s 100 degrees or higher. Even native Texans are taken aback and like to chat with our neighbors and friends about the extreme heat.

Consecutive days of 100 degree-plus temperatures start to test our yards and flowers. The usual “one to one and a half inches of water per week” may not be quite enough for our turf grass. Increasing watering to two times a week may be necessary. And deep watering our more tender flowers and newer-planted shrubs is very crucial for their success. Established native plants and shrubs should be fine. Deep watering trees, especially trees less than three to four years old, is a must during these last months of summer heat, especially if we don’t get any rainfall.

Speaking of deep watering, let’s not forget ourselves! Drinking plenty of water is fundamentally imperative for us, not only while we are mowing and working in our flower beds, but hours before we go outside and hours after we come back in. We may not have leaves and stems that wilt when our bodies need water, but very quickly, specific signs and symptoms that we are dangerously low on our water intake may develop and manifest themselves.

There are a few conditions that can sneak up on us if we are not paying attention to what our bodies are telling us. Dehydration, cramping, heat exhaustion and heat stroke can be dangerous, and they can arise during these very hot days if we are not hydrating as we should.

Initially, a person low in water may get cramps in their calves, feet, hands and muscles may tighten. If these are not recognized and steps taken to rehydrate, a person may become nauseated, develop a headache, and get very tired and listless. The body’s thirst must be quenched before it gets to this point. Getting out of the heat, drinking plenty of water and resting is essential.

A person with heat exhaustion could become confused, dizzy, their skin may become cold and clammy, and they may even faint if the above-mentioned symptoms are not addressed. If any of this occurs, it is more serious and may even require calling a doctor if rehydrating doesn’t help and symptoms don’t subside.

The most serious condition, heat stroke, can happen very quickly — even before or coinciding with the symptoms of heat exhaustion. These heat stroke symptoms may include one or more of the following conditions: dizziness; vomiting; headache; flushed, dry skin that is not sweating much; a high body temperature of 104 degrees or higher; fainting or unconsciousness; limited urination with or without blood; and convulsions. As you can see, an overheated, dehydrated body can go bad fast. So protect your grass, shrubs and flowers… and PLEASE protect yourselves during the hot summer days ahead.

Darla Horner Menking is an outdoor enthusiast and Herald correspondent. Contact her at darla.menking@gmail.com.

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