High elevation combined with increased climate change can make Colorado weather hot, dry and a bit unpredictable. Here are six tips to help you stay healthy this fall.
1. Acclimate to the altitude
If you’re new to the state or coming from a region with lower elevation, it’s important to take a few weeks to acclimate to the altitude. While downtown Boulder sits at about 5,300 feet above sea level, it’s easy to travel much higher than that in a short amount of time. For instance, the Flatirons summit is above 7,000 feet. While symptoms of altitude sickness typically occur between 7,500 and 8,000 feet in elevation, many may experience mild symptoms before they reach this range.
2. Wear sun protection
Colorado’s high elevation makes it the perfect place to catch a sunburn. This is because there is less atmosphere to protect against UV radiation. Follow these tips to best protect yourself from sun damage:
3. Beat the bugs
Common Colorado bugs include mosquitos, bees, wasps, ticks, ants, spiders and gnats. Luckily for us, this region is relatively safe in terms of bug-related illnesses like Lyme disease (from ticks) and West Nile (from mosquitos). However, stings and bites can still be itchy and annoying. If you’re looking to beat the bugs, here are some tips to follow:
While cases of Lyme disesase, Colorado Tick Fever (both caused by ticks) and West Nile Virus (caused by mosquitos) are rare in Colorado, it’s important to be mindful of possible symptoms, like headaches, stiffness, rashes, joint pain and vomiting. If you experience these symptoms, make an appointment with a healthcare provider.
4. Prepare for unpredictable weather
Check the forecast before heading outside, and remember that Colorado weather can change in an instant. The best way to prepare for abrupt weather changes is to wear or pack layers with you when venturing outside, especially during the late afternoon. Be prepared for unexpected wind, rain or hail by bringing a windbreaker or rain jacket. If you think you may get wet, opt for synthetic materials like polyester and nylon, which dry more quickly. Cotton-based clothing can retain moisture and leave you sopping wet by the end of the day.
Note: If you plan to hike at high elevations (i.e., above 10,000 feet), it’s important to start your journey early in the day. Severe thunderstorms and hail are common in the afternoons and evening.
5. Stay hydrated
High elevation can leave you feeling more dehydrated than usual. Be sure to drink one liter (32 oz.) of water every two hours while doing physical activity outside. It’s also important to bring extra water if you plan to be outdoors with pets or other people. Avoiding caffeine (a diuretic) can also help you stay hydrated for longer.
6. Avoid overheating
If you were here over the summer, you know that Colorado can get hot, hot, hot. If the heat index is above 90°F (32°C), you should use extreme caution when engaging in outdoor activities or exercise. Keep in mind that the heat index is a measure of how hot it feels, not how hot the reported outdoor temperature is.
It’s also important to be mindful of outdoor temperatures when on campus, especially if you’re commuting to classes. Temperatures between 90° F and 105°F (32°C - 40°C), you may experience heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
If you get too hot, follow these tips:
If you or someone you know experiences any of the following symptoms, seek medical attention:
The Apothecary Pharmacy at Wardenburg Health Center carries a variety of over-the-counter products, including sunscreen, allergy medication, lip balm, aloe vera, anti-itch cream and more.
The Adventure Resource Center is a free and open resource to help you plan your next trip into the outdoors. They provide route recommendations, backcountry meal planning tips, equipment recommendations and mapping services.
Outdoor Pursuits offers outdoor gear rentals to students, staff and faculty. Rental equipment includes hiking, camping, climbing, tubing, water sports and winter equipment options.