Heat related injuries in extreme desert conditions

Operating in extremely hot conditions creates a unique set of medical risks. In the link is the medical outline – for non medics, regarding those risks from the Namibia Ultra Marathon training guide.

DEHYDRATION
Dehydration is the most common heat related illness – in fact, it is thought that dehydration could be the single greatest threat to the health of an athlete. When training regularly and for long distances, fluid intake should be made a priority. You must drink fluids all day – not just during training. 

Don’t depend on feeling thirsty to tell you when to drink. Thirst is a late response of the body to fluid depletion. Once you feel thirsty, you are already low on fluids. The best indicator of proper fluid levels is urine output and colour. Ample urine that is light coloured to clear shows that the body has plenty of fluid. 

Dark urine means that the body is low on water, and is trying to conserve its supply by hoarding fluid which means that urine becomes more concentrated (thereby darker). 

Dehydration can be the cause of feelings of fatigue or exhaustion – at all times watch out for signs of dehydration and take on water regularly through out the day. 

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Off road vechicle safety by our offroad guru in Namibia Faan Oesthuizen

Expedition and Wilderness Medicine recently ran it first highly succesful Desert Medicine course in Namibia and it was highlighted on the course that one of biggest dangers facing you in remote locations is actually the travel there and back in local transport.

Below Faan Oesthuizen of Kaurimbi Expeditions gives his top tips for defensive four wheel driving.

High lift jack demonstration

High lift jack demonstration

  • Only place light bulky cargo on roof racks or high on vehicles in order to keep the centre of gravity as low as possible.
  • Place heavy cargo low in vehicle load beds and as far as possible forward in order to distribute more weight onto the front wheels and avoid uncontrolably light steering response.
  • Ensure that luggage is stowed where no damage to property may ensue.
  • Ensure that all cargo is thoroughly secured in load bins or tied down to prevent loss of equipment and luggage while vehicle is moving or stationery.
  • Driving on Gravel and Dirt Roads:  It is of critical importance that a speed of 80 km per hour is never exceeded whilst driving on gravel or dirt roads.  Speed will be further reduced when approaching curves or blind rises in the road, or when approaching oncoming traffic.
  • Overtaking should be kept to a minimum whilst driving on gravel or dirt roads. Following distances will be kept sufficiently long as to ensure that driving in the front vehicle’s dust is avoided at all costs.
  • Great care will be taken by all drivers to sufficiently reduce speed prior to entering bends or curves in the road, and that extreme control is maintained to prevent the vehicle from losing its traction whilst negotiating the bend.
  • You should at all times ensure that you have as the absolute minimum 2 x 25 litre containers of water, a jack, spare tire, tow rope and jump leads

Remote wilderness medical cover in arid environments.