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Hot weather tips keep gardeners safe at work
It’s pretty easy to grow plants when water is plentiful, and that’s the situation much of the time in Mississippi. But sooner or later, the weather gets hot and dry, and Mississippi gardeners know that we need plants that can thrive in the summer heat.
Mississippi gardeners also must know how to keep themselves safe while working in the heat. Working outdoors for any length of time in the hot sun can take a toll on even the hardiest gardener.
Anyone working in the garden during the summer months needs to pay attention to the dangers of getting overheated while planting those marigolds.
According to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been more than 8,000 heat-related deaths in the country since 1979. These deaths outnumber fatalities from hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes and earthquakes combined.
Following some simple advice can help gardeners avoid heat-related problems. Here are some of my tips for summer-season gardening.
If you must work during the heat of the day, try one of the new cooling towels. My wife has used one for a while, and she recently bought me one. You wet the towel, snap it, and it magically provides cooling relief. Repeat as needed. They can be worn in different configurations and also provide skin protection from the sun’s rays.
Summer garden chores make me sweat profusely, which is the body’s attempt to cool down. To combat this water loss, I drink plenty of cool -- not cold -- water, and I don’t wait until I’m thirsty to start. You also need to replace minerals and salts lost through sweat. There are many sport drinks on the market to help with this.
Working in the garden also means you need to protect your skin from the sun. In my younger years, like many gardeners, I didn’t pay much attention to the harmful effects of the sun. In the past few years, I’ve had to deal with some skin cancer, so now I wear sunscreens.
Another tip is to pace yourself and not work outside during the hottest part of the day. More than a few times, I’ve found myself getting overheated and breathing heavier than I should. Find shade or head into the air conditioning to alleviate these symptoms. Prevention is even better. Restrict garden and landscape activities to the cooler portions of the day: mornings before the sun gets too high and evenings during the setting sun.
Just remember to accept the fact that when gardening in the summer heat, you can’t work as fast or get as much done as you can in cooler seasons.