YOUR LIFE YOUR HEALTH

Avid Utah Hiker Takes Precautions to Protect Against Heat Exhaustion, Heat Stroke

Jul 12, 2018, 11:42 PM | Updated: 11:48 pm

AMERICAN FORK, Utah — Sue Leininger is an avid hiker, but after a miserable experience with heat exhaustion a couple years ago, she learned her lesson.

Leininger was hiking the Bonneville Shoreline Trail with her daughter when suddenly she started to feel really sick.

“We didn’t get started until late in the day. That was our first mistake,” she said. “The second mistake: it was full sun late in the day. I bet it was 100 degrees and it was August.”

It was the perfect combination to get easily overheated.

“My daughter noticed that I was turning beet red, bright red. I could tell that I was starting to not be able to breathe and then I lost all my energy,” Leininger said.

Leininger described how difficult it was for her daughter to help her off the mountain.

“We didn’t have enough water. I wasn’t wearing a hat. I wasn’t wearing sunglasses and I don’t even think I was wearing sunscreen — totally unprepared. It was terrible,” she said.

Although she didn’t have to be hospitalized, Leininger had to lie down for several hours because she was so sick to her stomach.

Today, she comes prepared to be in the heat. Leininger tries to get an early start to take advantage of cooler air in the morning and so she isn’t hiking in full sun.

Leininger puts ice cubes in her CamelBak and in a bandana, which she wraps around her neck to keep cool on the move. She said sipping water helps her keep her core temperature in control.

Leininger also tries to hike with a friend who could notice if her face is flushed. Leininger dresses in layers so she can peel down if she feels overheated.

She always wears a hat, sunglasses, and lots of sunscreen, and brings along an extra bandana she can dip in a cool stream to wipe her body and face down if she feels hot. Leininger also carries a small form of sugar, like a lollipop, in case she needs a little boost.

“It helps cut that really bad taste out of your mouth,” she said.

Intermountain Medical Center’s Dr. Colin Grissom said heat exhaustion often results in feeling lightheaded, dizzy, weak, dehydrated and nausea, but is not life-threatening.

“It’s most effectively treated by getting out of the hot environment into a cool environment,” Grissom said.

He encourages people suffering from heat exhaustion to stop exercising, find some shade, rest a little bit and rehydrate.

However, heat stroke is much more serious.

“The principal characteristic of heat stroke is altered level of consciousness — somebody is not responsive or not making sense,” Grissom said.

He explained the body goes into shock during heat stroke and a person could die within a few hours if not treated.

“That (heat stroke) is a life-threatening emergency and requires advanced medical treatment in order to reverse it before someone dies,” Grissom said.

Taking precautions like Leininger could be the difference.

“I found that keeping my core cooled down was really important for my survival on a hot day,” she said.

Grissom suggested if someone is hiking or exercising outside for longer than two hours, they should bring salty snacks, water, and an electrolyte drink with them on the trail.

However, he warns against overhydrating, which could lead to a different life-threatening illness. Grissom said drinking to the thirst is a good way to measure how much water the body needs.

He also advises people to watch for heat exhaustion, even if someone is not working out. For instance, an older person overheating in an unconditioned apartment could be just as dangerous.

Leininger said she didn’t want her heat sensitivity to be the reason she stopped hiking. With these preparations, she is ready to take on future hikes.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Your Life Your Health

Mike Dbeisi and Austin Smith are avid outdoor enthusiasts and emergency room doctors with Intermoun...
Ken Fall

How to enjoy Utah’s mountain bike trails safely this summer

Utah is known for outdoor sports, but they don’t come without risk. Two Intermountain ER doctors share their advice for anyone looking to mountain bike in the backcountry.
2 days ago
Dennis Cecchini talks about the overdose death of his son, Tennyson. (Ken Fall/KSL TV)...
Annie Knox, KSL TV

The overdose-reducing drug doctors say more of us should have on hand

It can fit in your pocket and save a life. After overdose deaths from opioids climbed during the pandemic, medical workers and advocates are spreading the word about naloxone.
12 days ago
Mother offers her advice for keeping her kids active at the park in the summer....
Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

Ways to keep your kids active during the summer break

With Utah's weather so nice this time of year, you would think getting kids to be active would be a slam dunk. But it can be a tall order given the draw of smartphones, tablets, and video games.
20 days ago
Watermelon pizza - Skip the sugary snacks this summer and make fruit the star of the show with thes...
Cindy St. Clair, KSL TV

Make fruit the star of summer snack time

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Between the BBQs, road trips, and busy schedules, summer can be a tough time to get healthy snacks into your kids. For Intermountain Healthcare’s corporate executive chef, Alex Govern, a little bit of sugar goes a long way in helping his kids eat healthy. “We don’t say no to sugars,” […]
27 days ago
...
Ken Fall, KSL TV

With warm weather arriving, keep your kids safe from window falls

It’s that time of year when windows are flying open to let in some fresh air. But it’s also when open windows and unsafe screens present a serious danger to little kids.
1 month ago
...
Ken Fall, KSL TV

Why Utahns are at higher risk for deadly skin cancer

Utah has the unfortunate distinction of having the highest rate of melanoma in the nation—a rate more than double the national average. Regular screenings can save lives.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Avid Utah Hiker Takes Precautions to Protect Against Heat Exhaustion, Heat Stroke