Arizona is experiencing some of the hottest days of the summer, with temperatures regularly in the 110-120 degree range. While the dangers of extreme heat are well known, what many people don’t realize is that drinking alcohol in the extreme heat is dangerous and can even be deadly.
Here’s what Arizona residents and vacationers alike should know in order to proceed with caution while enjoying some fun in the sun.
Alcohol and Heat
Drinking alcohol – even without the summer sun – can affect your coordination, balance, and judgment. When you are exposed to the sun, these effects are exacerbated. Spending too much time in the sun and heat can also make you dehydrated, heightening your body’s response to the alcohol.
The most common activities people participate in during summer months are swimming, boating, attending sports functions, or hanging out on the beach. Excessive alcohol abuse in these situations can affect your judgment on things like:
- How far you can swim
- The temperature of the water
- If you can safely operate a motor vehicle (boat, jet ski, etc.)
Drinking and driving is just as unsafe on the water as it is on the road, yet people tend to take it less seriously because they’re driving just for fun. No one should ever operate a vehicle of any kind while under the influence.
Heat Illness and Symptoms
Drinking alcohol in the heat can also result in illness. The Arizona sun can cause dehydration. Couple that with drinking alcohol, a diuretic, rather than water, and that dehydration can be compounded to dangerous levels. Since your blood vessels will be dilated from the heat and alcohol, you are more likely to pass out.
The most common first symptom is heat cramps. As soon as you experience cramps, get out of the heat and start drinking water. More extreme symptoms include passing out due to heat exhaustion and dehydration.
The most serious symptom is heatstroke. Heatstroke can lead to organ failure, shock, or death.
Arizona Outdoor Activities
Arizona is known for its fun and exciting outdoor activities. One of the most common is Salt River tubing. Unfortunately, this activity is infamous for its alcohol poisonings, drownings, alcohol-related deaths and heat emergencies. Emergency responders state that the cold water tricks riders into thinking they are doing fine. In reality, the heat and alcohol is having a lethal effect.
Some other common activities in Arizona to watch out for are golfing, swimming, hiking and boating. There are a lot of fun activities and beautiful sights, but, no matter how you are enjoying Arizona, be mindful of the temperature and stay hydrated. If you drink alcohol, limit the amount you drink outside, or better yet, choose non-alcoholic beverages instead.
Arizona Weather Precautions
Roughly 2,000 people visit the emergency room each year due to heat related illness, so it is important to be careful when spending time outdoors. Since Arizona experiences such extreme heat from May to September, the Department of Health Services has created extreme weather precautions. Here are some to consider:
Our bodies are constantly trying to keep us cool in the heat, causing us to become dehydrated. If you will be enjoying some time outdoors, you should be drinking one to two liters of water per hour.
If you will be outside, wear lightweight clothing. Try and choose breathable materials that are light or reflective colors. Wear a hat to protect your face and always apply sunscreen.
Make sure to take lots of breaks if you are working outdoors or doing strenuous activity. Your body will lose more water if you are constantly pushing yourself.
Eat Small Meals
Eat small meals that are high in protein. This will give your body the energy it needs throughout the day to burn. Avoid high fat foods that can make your body work harder than it already is.
High Country Is Not out of the Woods
While areas like Prescott, Flagstaff, Sedona and the Grand Canyon might not be quite as hot as other parts of Arizona, they still experience extreme temperatures. Always be cautious when you plan to play outside, no matter what part of the state you are enjoying.
Take Precautions and Be Careful
If you’re willing to brave the Arizona summer heat and pursue some outdoor fun, plan ahead and take extra precautions to protect yourself and your loved ones from the combined dangers of heat and alcohol consumption.
Don’t be fooled by cool water you are swimming in or assume you’re feeling fine. Drink in moderation and consume water between alcoholic drinks. If possible, pass on the alcohol entirely and enjoy the sights without it.
If someone in your party has been to rehab for alcohol addiction, please be sensitive and make it an alcohol-free outing. Not only will this help your friend stay sober and avoid temptation, it will provide a healthier situation for you too, given the risks of drinking in the heat.