Posted Date: July 7, 2011
Be careful while competing and volunteering at trials during the heat of the summer.
In the heat of the summer, agility competitors, volunteers, and judges need to be aware of the dangers of overheating. Getting proper rest, nutrition, and hydration routinely throughout the day is crucial to one's health, regardless of the level of conditioning for hot weather.
In the intense heat of summer, though you may be feeling fine, you should:
1. wear loose and cool clothing and a hat (these can be wet down if need be; removing clothing to feel cooler can have a detrimental effect)
2. apply SPF 50 sunscreen (blocking both UV-A and UV-B rays)
3. stop periodically to rehydrate (drink water and Gatorade or similar product)
4. avoid sodas (cokes, and so on), alcohol, coffee, and tea because these may dehydrate you
5. eat sufficient quality food (not too heavy, not too light) in three or more balanced meals a day (including a day or two before the event)
6. don't be afraid to take a break, even if only for a short rest
"These tips are not all inclusive, but have worked for me, and not just in judging. These were advised to me by a client in the 1980s when on assignment in the Middle East in daily 115 degree heat," Tatsch recalls.
USDAA president Kenneth Tatsch relates another experience years later in dog agility:
Back in the 1990s, Elizabeth Blanchard and I judged in a scorching 112 degree heat near Chicago. We followed all of the above rules as well as put ice in bandanas around our necks, under our hats, and in our pockets. It was foolish to continue running, perhaps. But we and the competitors weathered the day just fine. However, ring crew sitting under a tent did not fair as well, and one ended up in the hospital. Those who became ill were likely not following the above rules. Also, beware that a canopy tent does not block all the sun's vicious rays, and people standing around can block any breeze that may exist."
Heat should not be taken lightly. You can feel fine one moment and not the next. It saps your strength without you realizing it. This is even more true if you are not physically fit or have any type of health condition. Since heat exhaustion or stroke can be life threatening, be smart this summer, and take care of yourself and competitors around you (and your dog too).