Fort Mill Times

Brad Harvey: Don’t take chances in the summer heat

Unless you’ve been somewhere else entirely during the last few weeks, you’ve experienced the excessive temperatures that have overtaken our region. Spring greens swiftly turned to brown and, despite some drop in temps, there doesn’t appear to be any long-term relief in sight.

I can’t remember a time in my life in which the summer’s heat jumped on us so quickly. Just a few weeks ago, I was on the coast where it was unseasonably cool during the day. I returned home to Clover to find the oven had been turned on high and thermometer readings of 100-plus were setting records almost daily.

Beside the fact these hot and uncomfortable days can wreak havoc on area wildlife and domestic animals, it can bring harm to us as well. Heat exhaustion or, worse yet, heat stroke can quickly overtake the unprepared and result in death without proper care.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control website, symptoms such as headaches, stomachache and general body aches, along with dizziness and confusion, are classic examples of the onset of hyperthermia, which include heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

These illnesses occur because of the body’s inability to keep itself cool by the evaporation of sweat. Hot and humid days deter the evaporation process, thus causing the core body temperature to rise, resulting in the onset of the sickness.

Though most would probably think it would take physical exertion to cause such problems, it’s not true. Exposure alone can be enough. Low stress and summertime outdoor activities, such as fishing or hiking, can produce a similar outcome in short order.

When you’re outside, watch for the warning signs and don’t delay in seeking medical attention if you notice you’re feeling even one.

Other signs you may be in the stages of hyperthermia include cramps, weakness, nausea, vomiting, accelerated heart rate, skin that feels dry or clammy or dehydration/extreme thirst.

A CDC study on heat-related deaths from 1979 to 2002 found a total of 4,780 deaths in the United States were directly attributable to extreme weather conditions such as what we’ve experienced this summer.

If you’re forced to be out in the heat because of your job or some other reason, The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends checking with your doctor about any medications you may be taking and how they may put you in danger of heat stroke. Antihistamines, blood pressure/heart medications and others can increase the likelihood of occurrence. Also keep in mind, though a cold beer or soft drink may sound good, alcohol and caffeine work against your body to further dehydration.

And please, don’t forget about your animals. A dog tied up or kenneled in direct sunlight can experience heat stroke in a manner of minutes. Keep them shaded and provide them with plenty of water throughout the day.

With a little common sense and careful planning, hopefully we’ll all get through this and get back to a point where we can actually enjoy being outside again.

Dove hunting

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, along with the Forestry Commission and Santee Cooper, is sponsoring an opening day, limited entry dove hunt at Draper Wildlife Management Area near McConnells on Sept. 1.

Hunters interested in taking part may apply by completing an application and mailing it to the DNR main office in Columbia. You’ll be charged a $10 non-refundable “participation fee,” and as many as four hunters may join in on a single application.

Hunters will be randomly selected. Every applicant will be notified by mail whether they were successfully drawn.

Visit the DNR website at dnr.sc.gov. Fill it out and mail it in to the agency at SCDNR, Attn: Dove Hunts, P.O. Box 167, Columbia, SC 20202.

The deadline for getting in on it is Aug. 10.

If, after reading through all of the information that’s available on the website, you f still have questions, call DNR at 803-734-3886.

Happy ducks

According to the annual Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey conducted each May by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Canadian Wildlife Service, our spring duck population was at an all-time high.

This year’s survey placed the North American duck population at 48.6 million birds, a 7 percent increase from 2011’s record number of 45.6 million.

While the overall breeding population is obviously strong, 2012 was called an “average to below- average” year for breeding habitat. The total pond count for the U.S. and Canada combined has dropped a whopping 32 percent. The 2011 survey results showed an estimated 8.1 million ponds while 2012 fell all the way to 5.5 million.

Drier conditions along the prairies of both nations are believed to be the primary reason, with the pond numbers of the Dakotas and Montana falling an unbelievable 49 percent in a single year.

Locally, get involved with the Western York County Ducks Unlimited chapter by calling 803-487-4924 or visit wycdu.com.

Brad Harvey is a freelance writer in Clover. Visit his website at bradharveyoutdoors.com or follow on Twitter @BHarveyOutdoors.

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