You are a mile above sea level. There is less oxygen at this altitude which causes shortness of breath, even with mild exertion. Altitude sickness can develop at levels of 5,000 feet and above, which can result in headaches, insomnia, weakness, abdominal pan, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Physical exertion, rapid ascents and poor physical condition can increase a person’s chance of experiencing altitude sickness. Go easy on alcoholic beverages, drink more water, eat foods high in carbohydrates and try to sleep a little longer until accustomed to the altitude.
Reduce the Rays
Our high altitude brings you close to the sun so you can easily get a severe sunburn, even on a cloudy day. Sunscreen of at least 30 SPF is recommended, especially for your lips. Wear a brimmed hat and sunglasses (100% UV) to protect your face and eyes. (Wearing sunglasses with less than 10% UV can lead to tearing, eyelid swelling, pain, a gritty sensation in the eyes and light sensitivity.)
Drink Lots of Water
Colorado’s air is dry. Carry a canteen or other water container and drink small amounts of water frequently. (In warm temperatures for extended periods, consume about one quart per hour) Don’t wait until you’re thirsty; thirst is not a true indicator of your body’s need for water. Don’t drink from lakes, streams or other natural water sources without purification first. Even clear water can contain giardia or other microorganisms that cause diarrheal illness.
Pack a Safe Lunch
On extended trips without refrigeration, pack only non-perishable food items such as fresh and dried fruit, raw vegetables, crackers, chips, bread, cookies, granola bars, cereal, nuts and canned foods. Perishable food items must be eaten soon after purchase or kept cold to avoid possible food poisoning.
Be Safe in the Mountains
Quickly changing weather patterns and unpredictable terrain require special precautions when biking, camping, four-wheeling and hiking in the mountains. Establish a route, know your limits and never travel alone. Let someone know where you’re going and when you will return. Carry a first aid kit, layer your clothing and be prepared for inclement weather – hypothermia (lowered body temperature) can occur even in summer months.
Watch for Lightning
Thunderstorms are common and develop quickly, even on clear days. When hiking, be off high ridges and peaks by noon. Seek a safer environment at the first sign of inclement weather. Avoid being in open areas, above tree line and on open water during a storm. If you are caught in a large, flat area during a lighting storm, place all metal items away from you and crouch down (do not lie flat). Stay away from overhangs, caves, lone trees and hill tops.
Avoid Wild Animals
Do not feed, touch or play with wild animals. Avoid mice infested areas – while extremely rare, breathing dust containing dried rodent droppings can cause hantavirus disease.
When driving, carry plenty of water. Watch for deer and elk on the road, particularly in the early morning and late evening hours.
Leave Only Footprints
Use toilets when available. When not, bury human waste away from water and trails. Place trash in designated waste containers or pack it out.