The heat is officially here, and with it this year comes a deeper sense of concern about people crossing the desert and declaring asylum in the Yuma sector.
The practice has never been a safe one, as traveling through the desert any time of the year comes with its own dangers.
But now, with the heat on full blast, the danger is especially intense.
Driving through the desert between Yuma and El Centro on Tuesday, the thermostat on one Yuma Sun staff member’s car hovered between 113 and 116. The sunshine was relentless, and the breeze, such as it was, was akin to hair dryer on full blast.
Such heat can quickly become lethal. Heat exhaustion is the first sign of a problem, with symptoms including headache, nausea and dizziness. Heat exhaustion can rapidly deteriorate into heat stroke, symptoms of which include vomiting, confusion, seizures, difficulty breathing, and loss of consciousness.
To travel safely through the desert, one needs to carry water, and lots of it. One expert recommended a minimum of a gallon of water per day — but notes that one needs to drink more depending on activity levels.
One might think the limited shade from desert vegetation can provide relief, and it might — but humans aren’t the only creatures in the desert aware of that. There are a variety of desert dwelling creatures, some of which are venomous, which think along the same lines.
There have been several dangerous incidents in the Yuma sector already this summer, with the Border Patrol treating people for heat-related illnesses.
In many cases, families make this dangerous journey in search of a better life. However, would-be crossers need to know that the desert is harsh and inhospitable, and for the next several months, it is especially lethal.