Gardeners must stay hydrated, dress wisely, and take breaks when working outside in the summer heat. It is also important to be aware of dangerous snakes, spiders, and ticks found in Florida yards. Be careful when moving through brush or reaching into dark spaces.
With summer’s daily rains and hot sunshine come rapidly growing plants and turf. To manage their landscape’s growth, Florida homeowners will spend hours working outside in the sun.
Following are some pointers on how to safely work in the heat. We also give some tips on how to avoid dangerous wildlife that may be out and about in shrubs and plants.
Tips for Yard Work in the Summer Heat
The importance of drinking water while working in the heat cannot be overstated. Water carries heat away from the internal organs and to the skin through the bloodstream. Heat is released as sweat, which further cools the body.
Avoid Midday Work
Work outside in the morning and evening, when it is cooler. Only do yard work before 10:00 a.m. and after 4:00 p.m.
Wear Protective Clothing
Wear clothes that keep you shaded and cool. A wide hat will protect your face, neck, and scalp. Wearing a damp cloth around your neck will also keep you cool.
Take regular breaks in the shade or indoors to drink water and cool down. This will keep you from going past your limit and entering the dangerous stages of heat sickness.
Watch Out for Heat Sickness
Heat sickness is a dangerous result of not taking precautions while working in the heat. Heat sickness has three stages: heat stress, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Being aware of the symptoms of heat sickness will help you know when to stop, rest, and rehydrate.
Fatigue and muscle cramps are symptoms of heat stress. Heat exhaustion shows itself as headaches, dizziness, and nausea. Heat stroke, the most dangerous stage, comes with shallow breathing, a racing heart, and vomiting. If you reach this point, call for medical help immediately. If not addressed, heat stroke can lead to brain, muscle, and organ damage.
Know Your Outdoor Pests
Gardeners must also be aware of the dangerous critters that call Florida home. Knowing how to recognize and avoid these pests may save your life.
There are six deadly snake species in Florida. The Eastern Coral Snake and Southern Copperhead may be found around homes. The other four—the Dusky Pigmy Rattlesnake, the Timber Rattlesnake, the Eastern Diamond Rattlesnake, and the Florida Cottonmouth–usually keep to palmettos, scrub, and marshy areas.
The two types of venomous spiders found in Florida are the widow and the recluse. The Southern Black Widow and the Brown Recluse are the most common. Southern Black Widows hide in protected spots like underneath logs and boards. Brown Recluses stay in undisturbed areas like sheds and garages.
Florida has four species of ticks that can transmit diseases to humans. Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are the two most serious of these diseases.
Be careful when maneuvering through brush or reaching into pots and underneath logs. Raise piles of firewood, keep your lawn and weeds mowed, and clear piles of debris to reduce hiding spots for these critters.
Research the snakes listed and educate yourself on what they look like. If a snake bites you, move away from it and call 911. Take a picture or note the appearance of the snake to help identify it.
Shine a flashlight into dark areas before reaching into them and shake out gloves and shoes that have been sitting before putting them on.
Wear long pants, boots, and gloves when working outside. Tuck pant legs into boots and shirts into pants to make it harder for ticks to reach your skin.
Be careful, smart, and aware as you work outdoors during a Florida summer!