Alex Nieuwland - Suarez International Staff Instructor
Life is pretty good, here in Columbia, SC, but during the summer the heat and humidity combine to form conditions that can be dangerous to the ill-prepared. When the summer sun starts beating down, and the humidity makes the air feel like you could cut it with a knife, it’s easy to exceed the body’s capacity to cool itself. When this happens, dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke can be the result. None of those are conducive to a good training experience, to put it mildly, so it is important to take good care of yourself.
I thought I’d share some refinements that I’ve made to my heat survival system this summer here.
The night before I go to the range, I will fill my 100-oz hydration pack half full with sports drink and freeze it. I place it into the freezer so the cap is up, and blow into the valve to clear it, and the hose, of liquid. I’m careful not to blow too much air into the bladder, because the expanding water can pop the bladder if the bladder is already completely full.
On the morning I go to the range, I just take the pack out of the freezer and take it with me, along with plenty of drinking water and sports drink. By the time I get to the range, it has thawed out enough for me to unscrew the cap and fill the bladder the rest of the way with water. This gives me the dilute sports drink that I like to drink all day during these conditions. Worn on my back, the ice actively cools me as it melts. Every time it runs out of liquid, I fill it back up again. I’ve considered taking a bag of ice to the range, and adding ice to the bladder once the original clump of ice is gone, but I haven’t done that yet. You should be aware that the sugar load from sports drinks can actually cause diarrhea. That’s why I use dilute sports drink.
The other thing I do, is to wear a hat and a sniper veil around my neck, and to soak both in water whenever they dry out. The sniper veil is VERY effective at lowering the apparent temperature. I fold it into a triangle, then fold that over into a 3” wide package, and wear it around my neck. To soak them, I put the hat into a plastic bowl and the middle of the folded sniper veil into the hat, and then pour water into the bowl. This preserves water, and keeps water from dripping into my eyes and onto whatever I’m working with by putting the water only in the skull portion of the hat and the part of the sniper veil that goes on the back of my neck.
Once installed on my neck, the (cold) water from the sniper veil immediately cools me down, and starts soaking into my (cotton) shirt. This gives me the appearance of having sweated a LOT, and has the same effect as sweat would: the evaporating water cools me down. However, my body did not have to produce this “sweat”, thus keeping more water and electrolytes inside my body, which is a good thing. I also tried a shemagh for this purpose, but found the sniper veil a lot more comfortable. This probably has to do with the more open structure of the sniper veil.
This past weekend, I worked for two days as a safety officer at a match at my local range. We always have this match on the fourth weekend of August. My new system helped me stay more comfortable than ever before.
If you’d like to join the discussion on Warrior Talk, and share your heat-beating habits, you can do so here.