Arizona. A stunning and diverse outdoor playground. Perfect winters. Scorching summers!
That summer, is now upon us. And safety, while enjoying the great outdoors, becomes a huge issue. Safety for ourselves, and also for our dogs. While many claim “but at least it’s a dry heat” – my response to that is “ya, like an oven!”. The summers here are brutal, that is for sure. But that doesn’t mean you have to hibernate and complain every 5 seconds about how unbelievably hot it is – we all know it’s hot, move on!
With all of that being said, here is a list of some of the most important things to take in to consideration when planning an outdoor adventure during the hottest months in the desert:
- WATER! I can’t say it enough. WATER! Water for the humans to drink, water for the dogs to drink, water to pour on yourself and your furries. And ideally, water to splash in. Just about all of our hikes during the hotter months will take place near a river, stream, creek or lake. This provides the dogs a place to cool down, and an emergency water source if it is needed.
- Time. In the desert, early is better! Very early. The sun comes up before 5 am, with triple digits setting in well before noon. It is highly recommended that you begin your hikes at, or before sunrise – to provide a few hours to complete hike and enjoy the slightly cooler morning temperatures. Afternoon hikes are highly discouraged and should be forbidden, if taking along your dog! Evening hikes are even discouraged, as the temperatures don’t begin to cool off until hours after the sun sets. But if you do decide on a sunset hike, provide paw protection for your sidekicks, take proper lighting, enormous amounts of water and watch out for those rattlers – they love to make an appearance just after sunset!
- Ground temperature. Many, many people overlook this. They believe that once the temps cool down in the evening you can head on out for a walk. NO! You must check the ground temperature first, if taking your dog along. Place the palm of your hand on the ground for at least 10 seconds. If it is too hot for your hand, it is too hot for you dogs exposed paws. Not only do asphalt and sidewalks retain heat – but rocks, sand and dirt do as well. Dog booties are an option – but keep in mind, that typically, if the ground is too hot to walk on – the outside temperature is probably to hot as well.
- Shade. Choose hikes and walks that you know will have at least a little reprieve from the sun. Even if that shade is few and far between – it is better than none. And it can be very difficult to find hikes that provide such shade – seeing as how our landscape is made up with cactus, primarily.
- Knowledge. Know the hike you will be taking. Do not attempt a new and difficult hike in such heat. Save those adventures for the cooler months. Things can go wrong quickly in the desert. Don’t let yourself and your furries become lost, and running low on water. Stick to familiar areas, that you are comfortable exploring.
- Buddy System. Hitting the trails with your best adventure buddy (human), is another great way to ensure safety. It provides another source of water, in case you may have underestimated what you need. It also provides knowledge, to reduce the risk of becoming lost on the trails. And most importantly, in case something were to happen, such as: injury, heat exhaustion, snake bite, etc. – it provides another person to call for help, get you to the car safely, whatever may be needed.
There is, of course, many more things I could add to this list, such as: snacks, first aid kit, sunscreen, chapstick, mushers secret and cooling vests for the dogs. But this is a good start to preparing for your summer adventures!
So, don’t let this heat stop you – be creative and have some fun trying to get those adventures in. When all else fails – take day trips to the variety of cooler areas in Arizona, such as: Flagstaff, Payson, Prescott and Sedona!
Katie, Chipper and Quinci