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Too hot to think? Follow these tips

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

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)

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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Garden Checklist for week of April 21

This week there’s plenty to keep gardeners busy. With no rain in the immediate forecast, remember to irrigate any new transplants.

* Weed, weed, weed! Get them before they flower and go to seed.

* April is the last chance to plant citrus trees such as dwarf orange, lemon and kumquat. These trees also look good in landscaping and provide fresh fruit in winter.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden is really hungry. Feed shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash.

* Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias.

* Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom.

* Mid to late April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce seedlings. Choose varieties that mature quickly such as loose leaf.

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