How to Prevent Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion In the Garden

Reader Contribution by Toby Grotz

With the summer heat approaching I’d like to pass on an experience and a realization I had one afternoon in the humid 100 degree heat in the Line Creek Norganic* Community Garden north of the confluence of the Kaw and Missouri River.

The Line Creek Community Garden, surrounded by tall fence to keep out the prolific urban deer.

What Causes Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion?

In order to maintain an internal body temperature of 98.6 F, the body perspires or sweats. As the sweat evaporates off the skin it cools the body. The trouble starts when the humidity is so high that the air is saturated with moisture and sweat drips off of you rather than evaporating. Your body temperature starts to rise. Yourbody will compensate for the heat when the the brain begins to receive heated blood. As body temperature rises, the brain sends out instructions to decrease the muscle tone.  Individuals may feel tired and listless, and not able to work as well. You may feel light headed and sick to your stomach. This is heat exhaustion. If the body is not cooled and body temperature continues to rise, heat stoke occurs. At this point, the body’s cooling mechanism having failed, you may loose consciousness and death may result. There are close to 2,000 heat related deaths in this country each year. Heat exhaustion can quickly turn into a medical emergency. The mortality rate for those who are afflicted with heat stroke can be up to 50%

Treating Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion

Get out of the sun
Get your clothes off
Take your shoes off
Pour water on your body
Drink water
Keep a wet cloth on the back of our neck, change when it gets warm
Lay down with your back against the cooler surface of the earth
Garden early in the morning or wait until evening

Vitamin D Deficiency and Heat Stroke

My method for avoiding Heat Stroke is called Getting Grounded in the Garden. By the time I realized I had a problem I was getting nauseated and dizzy. I got to a shade tree, took off my shirt, laid on the grass, poured water on my head, and on a rag to cool my neck and head. When I felt better I got up to sit in a nearby chair. It was then I realized how hot my feet were.

 I had been gardening with shoes on that were made with rubber soles and synthetic materials. It dawned on me that I was not only electrically insulated from the Earth, but thermodynamically insulated from the Earth. The temperature of dirt (see previous post), especially amongst the shaded rows of your garden will always be cooler than the air when you’re facing conditions that can lead to heat exhaustion. Wearing footwear made with insulating soles isolated the blood vessels in my feet from the cool dirt. When I felt better I went back to the Garden and spent the rest of that hot afternoon gardening barefoot. Organic Gardening pioneer Ruth Stout was know to occasionally garden barefoot and in the nude. This would help heat transfer out of the body to keep you cooler and is recommended for those with Vitamin D deficiency. Wearing a hat is recommended to keep the direct sun off your head.

Getting Grounded In the Garden

It’s a long story which has to do with the electrical characteristics of the Earth and how it affects all life, but suffice it to say that we are gardening in a sea of energy that includes a voltage potential between the Earth and the upper reaches of the ionosphere cavity. This voltage potential when you are wearing insulating shoes can be as high as 350 volts.

The electric charge on your body with and without shoes. Without shoes your body is grounded. (From: Earthing, by Ober, Sinatra, & Zucker)

Electrons flow from the Earth into and around your body. We evolved and are biologically attuned to the electron flow and the electric and magnetic attributes of the Earth.

Did you ever notice how good it feels to walk on the grass barefoot in the early morning or at any time of day? Dr. Bernard Jensen, the father of the diagnostic tool of Iridology recommended to his patients that they walk barefoot in the grass for a short time every day. It turns out research indicates that electrons flow into your body and act as anti-oxidants when your body, particularly your feet, are in direct contact with the Earth. The effect of getting grounded can be seen belowon the thermogram of a woman who suffered from knee pain for many years.

The arrow in the top image shows the painful area in red and the image below shows the same area after applying a conductive bandage connected to a ground rod for 30 minutes in a process known as Earthing.


Be careful when gardening in hot and humid weather. Make sure your companions take steps to avoid Heat Exhaustion. If you work on a farm or with a community gardening crew, make sure this is a topic for discussion during safety meetings before work.

*Norganic – Naturally and Organically Grown. A definition resulting from the theft of the word organic by the USDA. My teacher, Jim Fowler, owned the first health food store in Denver, Colorado and organized the Colorado Organic Growers and Marketing Association ( COGMA) back in 1950. Those old boys and their wives didn’t need no stinkin’ government to tell them or their customers what was organic. I mentioned the rivers because I’d like to suggest you learn and teach geography by the location of the rivers and streams in your area, you may need this information in the future as the climate changes and the heat rises.


Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

Mayo Clinic Definition of Heat Exhaustion

The Physiological Effects of Heat Exhaustion” by Cool Bandanas

The Heat Transfer Mechanism in the Human Body

The Transport of Heat


The Earthing Institute

Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine, Can Electrons Act as Antioxidants? A Review and Commentary. James L. Oschman, Ph.D. Volume 13, No. 9, 2007, pp.955-967

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