Got the gardening bug?
Craving a walk in the park?
Even in the extreme heat of summer some of us just need to get outdoors every day. Nature and nurture calls to us.
Gardening and visiting the Fruit & Spice Park over the 3-day weekend (Father’s Day and Juneteenth) I relished the time spent outdoors but realized the need for some extra precautions due to extra heat. I thought I would share some of my tips and where you can find more information to keep you safe while working/playing/planting outside this summer.
Peak Growing Season to plant new gardens, green spaces, trees is now during the longer days of rainy season. This is also our heat season. Plants grow by leaps and bounds during this dual season. We want to take advantage of this; however, we need to keep cool while we are planting the trees that will help to keep us cool in the future. *
Early Day is the best for getting outside, you can beat the crowds if you are visiting a beach or park and/or enjoy the relative cool in your home garden. You might also miss the typical rainy season afternoons storms as well. Be aware sometimes this pattern flips and rain comes in the mornings. This depends on prevailing winds; pick your favorite local news channel for daily weather reports. You can also access the National Weather Service online and dial it into your zip code.
Peak Heat is 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Peak Heat hours are a good time to chill and recharge your energy and much can be said for the benefits of afternoon siestas. My motto? If the cats are taking a nap maybe I should as well **. You can also take this time for a late lunch; I don’t always feel hungry when I am hot. And drink, stay hydrated while you rest and wait out the heat.
Part of my job is planning gardens that are installed by volunteers in our parks. These events serve as hands-on, hands in the earth, educational opportunities and are also great fun and help build team spirit. We remind everyone to take breaks and drink water if you are feeling hot and/or thirsty. We also schedule breaks and have everyone stop and rest in the shade to rehydrate even if they are not feeling thirsty.
Always have a tent or a space inside for breaks during volunteer events and avoid scheduling these events in the hotter afternoons. And perhaps now more than in the past we should keep outdoor events shorter in duration in the summer.
Be Aware your body can overheat even if you are following all the safety protocols. And sometimes it feels as if the heat catches up to you when you stop working. You should know the signs and what to do and always use the buddy system. Working or playing outdoors by your self can mean no one is there to call for help if needed.
I will share one of my “tells” on whether I am getting too hot or tired while working/playing outside. I forget what I am doing, or what tool I am looking for, simple instructions seem complex etc. What are your “tells”? Know your limits and lower them in increased heat.
Age, general health, weight, fitness, can affect your ability to tolerate heat. If you are an aging boomer or gray haired eco-warrior, remember you may not be young and seemingly invincible any longer. Your new superpower could be working smarter now rather than harder, stronger, and longer.
Warning Signs of Heat Illness that everyone should know. Do not hesitate to call for 911 for help if you or someone you are with experiences any of the symptoms noted on the CDC website on Extreme Heat, This information is also available on our Miami Dade County Fire Department website. It could serve us well to review precautions and warming signs each year just as we review hurricane preparations yearly.
Our County has a Chief Heat Officer, and a website full of information and posters in English, Spanish and Haitian Creole. You can download and print these to have on hand if you are doing volunteer or group workdays in the outdoors. Check out the plans for how we will address heat issues on this website by downloading the Heat Toolkit.
Be cool, stay well, and next let’s talk about what plants thrive in the heat.
Miami Dade County Office of Resilience/ Extreme Heat
Natural Heat Related Deaths in Florida
Miami Dade County Fire Department Safety Tips: Summer Weather
*Note, check Million Trees Miami for tree giveaways and volunteers workday and Adopt-a-Tree for free trees for your home landscape.
**Cats sleep an average of 12 to 18 hours each day.