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Hydration Key for People, Plants This Hot Northwest Weekend

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We’re approaching one of the Northwest’s busiest weekends: Hoopfest in Spokane, Seattle Pride, Portland International Beerfest, Ride Sun Valley Bike Festival, and Ironman in Coeur d’Alene. With a heat wave also approaching, health and garden experts shared some best practices.

We’ve all heard the number one recommendation: drink plenty of water if you’re outside. Health officer Dr. Joel McCullough says also have a plan to cool down if temps are near 100. He’s with Spokane Regional Health District.

McCullough: “In the shade it still will be 100 degrees… so the temperature in the direct sunlight could be 15 degrees more than that. So the recommendation is to go indoors where there is air conditioning. If you don’t have air conditioning in your home you can go to the mall, or stores or movies, or even if your friends have air conditioning.”

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Spokane Public Radio
Cabbage sprouting in the heat this June.

But thousands of people won’t be inside this busy weekend. McCullough says the first sign of dehydration will be thirst, but it could turn into heat exhaustion.

McCullough: “And those people feel warm, they can develop muscle cramps, they can feel light headed. And with heat stroke, people are generally confused, they can faint. This is an illness that can actually go on to be fatal. Heat stroke is a medical emergency and they need medical care right away.”

At the athletic events there will be medical tents and water stations.

Now turning to the yard. Just as people need extra water, so do the plants. Master gardener Pat Munts in Spokane says plants are going to pull up a lot more water and need extra of it around.

Muntz: “And they can easily go into water stress. If you can mulch your beds, even with pine needles, get some mulch on the ground because that keeps the ground cooler and slows evaporation. Right after you water getting some mulch down will help tremendously.”

Here’s her skinny on different plants: lettuce and spinach are probably done until August, berry plants will dry up very quickly so they need extra water, and if hydrated the tomatoes, corn, peppers, are going to take off in the heat. She suggests this for the lawn: keep it longer than three inches. And…

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Credit Paige Browning / Spokane Public Radio
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Spokane Public Radio
Peppers, like this young plant starting to produce, will do well in the heat.

  Muntz: “You don’t want to be fertilizing now, and you definitely don’t want to be doing any weed spray. Because once temperatures get above 85 degrees the herbicides can volatilize, in other words they’ll spread very easily, and then they’ll easily go onto other plants that you don’t want to damage.”

She says just wait until the heat passes and keep things hydrated.

And one last thing on hydration for people from McCullough: “Alcohol tends to make dehydration worse.” Beer and summer cocktails might be tempting, but Dr. McCullough says he would avoid it if out in hot weather.

Copyright 2015 Spokane Public Radio

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