Sun and Heat
- Where to Go
- The Best of the Valley of the Sun
- Wild West Adventure
- Let Scottsdale Rock Your World
- Finding Water in the Sonoran Desert
- Spring Training
- Arizona Family Road Trip
- Phoenix Points of Pride
- Southwestern Culture and Heritage
- Nocturnal Scottsdale
- Exploring Phoenix’s Architecture
- Unexpected Arizona
- Desert Chic
- Chilly Drinks and Cool Eats in Scottsdale
Phoenix is the Valley of the Sun, and for good reason. With more than 300 days of sunshine a year, the warm rays of light can be hard avoid—not that winter visitors trying to escape frozen climates find that a problem. Still, the Sonoran Desert’s powerful sun shouldn’t be underestimated, particularly in the summer, when in late afternoon the sun’s UV rays are most intense, causing fair skin to burn in less than 10 minutes. Excessive exposure can cause real, and potentially fatal, health problems. Fortunately, it’s all quite avoidable.
Shield yourself from the sun by covering up. Try to wear protective clothing, like long-sleeved shirts and pants. The sun easily damages sensitive skin on your face and neck, so be sure to bring a broad-rimmed hat and sunglasses when you are planning to spend extensive time outside, like on the golf course or while hiking. Poolside, long sleeves and pants may seem unreasonable, which makes a sunscreen with a high SPF a crucial ingredient. Be sure to slather on a thick coat 15 minutes before going out and reapply throughout the day. Also, seek shade when possible and get out of the sun occasionally. It’s best to avoid the sun during the hottest part of the day, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., when the UV rays are at their peak.
Although everyone is at risk of getting a sunburn, no matter the skin tone, fair-skinned people and children are particularly susceptible. In fact, those with light skin, blue or green eyes, blond or red hair, freckles, or moles are at a greater risk of skin cancer. Should a burn occur, though, cool the skin by applying ice or taking a cold shower or bath. Apply an alcohol-free aloe vera gel and stay out of the sun.
The desert’s hot, arid climate can take its toll on the body in other ways. You may not even feel particularly “sweaty” in Arizona, especially compared to more humid climates, but perspiration evaporates quickly in the dry air, depleting the body of moisture and leading to dehydration. Drink lots of water, about a gallon a day in the summer or when outside for long periods of time. Many Phoenicians carry a bottle of water with them and instinctively drink throughout the day. On the golf course, you’ll see lots of drinking fountains and giant water coolers—take advantage of them. Again, try to limit exertion during the hottest parts of the day.
Should you find yourself dizzy, weak, or nauseated, it may be heat exhaustion, which is caused when the body is unable to replace fluids. Other symptoms include sweating profusely, paleness, muscle cramps, headaches, and fainting. Find a cool place immediately, sit down, and drink a beverage with electrolytes, like Gatorade. If the body is unable to cool down, it may suffer from heatstroke, a potentially fatal form of hyperthermia. Heat stroke is often marked by the body reaching 104 degrees and an inability to sweat or release heat. The skin may be red or hot to the touch. Also, look for an increased heart rate, dizziness, fatigue, unconsciousness, or convulsions. Get immediate medical help, and try to cool the body down with water, ice, or cold compresses. Staying hydrated and avoiding the extreme heat will stave off these serious ailments.
© Jeff Ficker from Moon Phoenix, Scottsdale & Sedona, 1st edition