The summer garden seems to have an endless amount of work to be done; the grass needs mowing, the weeds need to be pulled, and everything needs maintaining. But working in the garden during the summer can put gardeners at risk from the unforgiving Florida heat.
Be sure to take the necessary precautions and try to work in the morning before the temperatures get too high. A hat is a must, as is sunscreen. Always apply sunscreen to exposed skin before working outside. Even a few minutes in the sun can burn unprotected skin. And it can't be said enough: reapply often! Long sleeves and pants may seem counterintuitive, but lightweight, light-colored clothing will keep you cool while still protecting your skin.
Don't stay outside for too long, and remember to take breaks often to rest and cool off. Keep water nearby, and drink—even if you don't feel thirsty.
If you can, work outside in the early morning before the heat of the day becomes oppressive. The evenings might be cool enough for gardening, but you may have to contend with mosquitoes.
Learn the signs of heat-related illness. There are two different types of heat sickness and both need attention: heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
If you are suffering from heat exhaustion you need to cool yourself down. Get into a cooler place and drink water. Be careful going into a highly air-conditioned area if you have been out in the heat too long, some people can find the sudden temperature change disorienting and may even lose consciousness.
If you or someone around you is suffering from heat stroke, call 911 immediately and aggressively cool the person down with an ice bath or ice packs placed on the head, armpits, or groin until help arrives.
Heat Exhaustion Symptoms
- Feeling faint or dizzy
- Excessive sweating
- Cool, pale, or clammy skin
- Nausea or vomiting
- Rapid, weak pulse
Heat Stroke Symptoms
- Throbbing headache
- Body temperature above 103°
- Red, hot, dry skin
- Nausea or vomiting
- Rapid, strong pulse
- Loss of consciousness
For information specific to your part of Florida, you can contact your county Extension office for more help.