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Too hot to think? Follow these tips

Hat, water bottle, gardening gloves
Heat can make you sick! Take precautions -- like wearing a hat and having plenty of water nearby -- when gardening. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Take master gardeners' advice to protect against heat-related illnesses

A little sweat is one thing; heat exhaustion (or worse) can send you to the hospital.

Heat represents a real danger to gardeners. That’s important to remember during this string of triple-digit days.

When there’s work to be done, we’re tempted to tough it out and ignore our body’s warning signs. That’s a bad idea. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 658 Americans die each year due to extreme heat – despite the fact that all those deaths and illnesses are preventable.

As part of its master gardener training, the UC Cooperative Extension came up with these reminders and tips. They’re helpful to review before going out in this heat.

What are common heat illness disorders and symptoms?

1. Heat Stroke: Sweating stops and the body fails to regulate its temperature. Victims may die if they don’t receive immediate medical treatment. Characterized by: mental confusion, fainting, or seizures; hot dry skin usually reddish in color; and high body temperature.

Treatment: Call 911 immediately, soak victim’s clothing with cool water, move victim to shaded and cool area, fan victim to increase cooling of their body.

2. Heat Exhaustion: Profuse sweating results in dehydration. Characterized by: fatigue, dizziness and nausea; pale and moist skin; and possibly slightly elevated temperature.

Treatment: Have victim rest in shaded and cool place and drink fluids. Do not serve caffeinated fluids such as soft drinks, iced tea, or coffee.

3. Heat Cramps: Cramping thought to be due to loss of salt through sweating. Characterized by muscle spasms in arms, legs and abdomen during or following physical activities.

Treatment: Have victim rest and drink non-caffeinated fluids.

4. Heat Syncope: Dehydration while standing still causes blood pooling in lower portions of the body. Characterized by fainting while standing still.

Treatment: Have victim rest in a shaded and cool place, and drink non-caffeinated fluids.

5. Heat Rash: Occurs under hot and humid conditions where sweat does not evaporate readily. Characterized by irritated or itchy skin with prickly feeling and small red bumps on skin.

Treatment: Wash and dry skin. Wear loose clothing and keep skin dry.

Here are master gardener tips to prevent heat-related illnesses:

1. Gardeners should acclimatize themselves to the prevailing weather conditions.

2. Always drink plenty of fluids such as water and sports drinks. During warm weather, plan to have at least one quart of water available per person per hour of the outdoor activity. Avoid caffeinated drinks.

3. Wear a summer hat with a brim, and loose-fitting, light-colored and lightweight clothing.

4. Schedule vigorous activities during coolest portions of the day and take frequent breaks on hot days.

5. If someone is feeling symptoms of heat illness, they should take a rest period in a shaded area. If a treated victim does not recover from heat illness in a reasonable amount of time, promptly seek medical attention.

P.S. From Debbie and Kathy: Don't forget to use sunscreen, too!


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 26:

Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to help corral blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.

To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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