Hot Time in the Summer: Staying Safe in the Heat

Safe Hot Weather Paddling

Safe Hot Weather Paddling

A summer time heat wave is hitting many parts of the paddling world, and as training ramps up for some of the big races and events like Sea Paddle NYC and Chattajack, it’s a good time for a heat safety refresher.

Even though our sport involves water, exposure to the sun and intense heat can still cause problems. And sometimes, warm inland waters don’t do much to help, especially if there’s no breeze to speak of.

Here in the South, inland air and water temps can get down right sultry, when humidity drives the heat index or feels like temperature into the 105-115 or even hotter range. That can be problematic for anyone, even the seasoned, fit athlete, but especially for folks who may suffer from exercised induced asthma or other respiratory issues.  No matter what your skill level, remember to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  Before, during and well after your paddle work outs.  If you can get in the habit of drinking water throughout the day, everyday, you are well on your way to making sure you’ll start your workout primed and ready to go.

Tips for Beating the Heat

  • If your workout is over an hour, be sure to use some sort of electrolyte replacement to replace lost salts
  • Wear light colored clothes that are breathable and loose.
  • Wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.
  • Consider working out in the morning when it might be cooler and less humid.
  • Remember, caffeine and alcohol can increase dehydration.
  • Stop and take appropriate action if you feel any of the signs of heat exhaustion coming on. (Scroll down for more on heat exhaustion.)

American College of Sports Medicine Hydration Guidelines

Carbohydrates within a sports beverage help to replenish your sugar (glycogen) stores and electrolytes help to accelerate rehydration. Sports beverages for use during prolonged exercise should generally contain four to eight percent carbohydrate, 20-30 meq/L of sodium, and 2-5 meq/L of potassium. The need for carbohydrates and electrolytes within sports beverages increases with prolonged activity. Carbohydrate consumption helps to sustain and improve exercise performance during high-intensity exercise longer than one hour as well as lower-intensity exercise for longer periods.You should ingest one-half to one liter of a sports drink each hour to maintain hydration. Also, sports drinks should not exceed a carbohydrate concentration of eight percent.


Check your hydration status before exercise because there is a wide variability in fluid needs for each person.

• Drink 16-20 fluid ounces of water or sports beverage at least four hours before exercise.

• Drink 8-12 fluid ounces of water 10-15 minutes before exercise. Consuming a beverage with sodium (salt) and/or small meal helps to stimulate thirst and retain fluids.


• Drink 3-8 fluid ounces of water every 15- 20 minutes when exercising for less than 60 minutes.

• Drink 3-8 fluid ounces of a sports beverage (5-8 percent carbohydrate with electrolytes) every 15-20 minutes when exercising greater than 60 minutes. Do not drink more than one quart/hour during exercise.


Obtain your body weight and check your urine to estimate your fluid losses. The goal is to correct your losses within two hours after exercise.

• Drink 20-24 fluid ounces of water or sports beverage for every one pound lost


Overhydration, also called water intoxication, is a condition where the body contains too much water. This can result in behavioral changes, confusion, drowsiness, nausea/vomiting, weight gain, muscle cramps, weakness/paralysis and risk of death. In general, overhydration is treated by limiting your fluid intake and increasing the salt (sodium) that you consume. If overhydration is suspected, you should see your doctor for appropriate lab tests and treatment.You should not consume more than one liter per hour of fluid.

More from the ACSM

Heat Exhaustion v. Heat Stroke

Both conditions are serious.  Heat exhaustion comes from losing electrolytes in hot, humid climates when the body’s ability to evaporate sweat is compromised and it starts to overheat.  If not treated, it can lead to heat stroke, which can be fatal.


Stay safe out there, y’all!



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