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Now browsing: Hometown News > Golf > James Stammer

The dangers of playing in the Florida sun
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Posted: 2014 Aug 08 - 08:54

A good friend of mine had a pretty big scare. He played in a two-day golf tournament a couple weekends ago. While he played well, the heat took a toll on him that he was unaware of.

He arrived home and felt exhausted. He flopped onto the couch and took a nap. When he woke, he had severe leg cramps and felt light-headed. In a matter of seconds he passed out. When he came to, his speech was more like that of a six-year-old than a young 40-something. His wife called for an ambulance.

The next several hours were quite scary for his wife and daughters. They were worried that he was having a heat stroke or worse. The doctors hooked him up to an IV and ran tests. As it turned out he was extremely dehydrated and his body was struggling.

Fortunately everyone acted quickly enough to prevent a truly tragic event. He received enough fluids to get his body going again and he was able to avoid suffering a stroke. He went home form the hospital in the early hours of the next day and spent the next couple of days resting and getting additional fluid into his body. Tragedy was avoided.

With a heat index in triple figures, playing an outdoor sport such as golf is likely not the best idea. However, should you insist on heading out, please take the proper precautions.

Sweating is the most significant way that our body cools itself to maintain a safe and stable temperature. In humid climates our sweat doesn't evaporate easily and our bodies don't cool efficiently. We sweat more and need to consume more fluids to help our body stay cool and perform well.

It's important to drink before you're thirsty. You'll even play better when you're not constantly looking for the next water cooler. Sports drinks such as Gatorade and the like help to replenish the fluids and electrolytes that your body loses while perspiring. These drinks are also loaded with carbohydrates that provide energy your body needs.

Fruits are best for giving you a boost of long-lasting energy. Candy bars provide quick energy, but their effects diminish quickly. Bananas, apples or peaches are easy to carry and easy to eat. Bananas also help prevent the buildup of cramp-causing lactic acid in the muscles, a frequent occurrence during exercise.

Your most important concern should be avoiding heat exhaustion or heat stroke. There are many ways to do that. Always wear shorts, and light colored shirts. It may sound crazy, but wearing an undershirt will also help. The undershirt helps get perspiration away from your body where it can evaporate more quickly, assisting in the cooling process. If you feel too warm at the turn, stop by the clubhouse, grab a cold drink and give your body time to cool.

While hats are great for keeping the sun off of your head and face, they will make you warmer. Your body discharges most of its heat through your head. If your head is hot, so is the rest of your body. I like to take my cap off when I'm riding along in the cart. The sun isn't beating down on me and the breeze created by the moving cart helps cool me.

Some people like to take along an extra towel or two. They dampen these towels at every water cooler and lay them across the back of their necks or over their heads when not hitting a shot, or wipe their face and arms with them to keep cool.

If you are taking medication, your body may need even more assistance to keep cool. Some medications interfere with sweating, putting you at even greater risk. Check with your doctor to see if your medication does this and what measures you should take to lessen your chances of heat-induced illness.

If you begin to feel the effects of extreme thirst, nausea, dizziness, headache, elevated temperature, if your skin looks pale, your pupils appear dilated or your muscles start to cramp, there is a good chance that you are suffering from heat exhaustion. The best thing to do is immediately get to a cool place and rest. Replenish your body by drinking large amounts of fluids and eating generously salted foods to help your body return to its normal balance.

Heat stroke is much more serious and can quickly become deadly. Symptoms of heat stroke include hot, dry skin with a grayish tint, dilated pupils and a body temperature that may rise to more than 104 degrees. Anyone suffering from heat stroke must be treated quickly. Immerse the victim in a cool water or ice bath and call 911 immediately.

We all want to enjoy our round and play our best. If you're careful and follow a few tips, you can make sure that your only strokes are those you count on the scorecard.

James Stammer has been an avid golfer and golf enthusiast for nearly 40 years. He hosts the Thursday Night Golf Show on WSTU 1450-AM. Contact him at stammergolf@yahoo.com.

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