Sunrise @ Death Valley

Dangers/Hazards of the desert

After driving through the Mojave Desert and spending time in Las Vegas, I want to mention some really important aspects when it comes to handling deserts. I was thirsty all the time and drank more water than anywhere else I was so far.

 

Intense sunlight, heat and dry zone – Carry plenty of water
Intense sunlight and heat are present in all arid areas. Air temperature in certain regions can rise over 50 degrees C (122 degrees F) during the day. Intense sunlight and heat increase the body’s need for water. Lack of the required amount of water causes a rapid decline in an individual’s ability to make decisions and to perform tasks efficiently. Bring enough water. One gallon per person per day is the minimum. It’s better to bring too much water than too less.

 

Plan your trip carefully
As already stated above, deserts are usually very dry so you need to drink a lot of water. Hell of a lot! One gallon per person or day should be taken with you while driving through the desert. You can never know what can happen. Maybe you got a flat tire and stuck in the desert. Until the breakdown service arrives or somebody helps you change the tire, it may take hours. If you don’t carry enough water, you might shake hands with the death…

When on the road and it rains, watch out for flash floods. In the Mojave Desert all routes which are favorable of being flooded are signed with “Subject to flooding”. A really nice Android or iPhone App is called “FloodSpot”. This app shows you quickly the actual flooded areas and where in future might be flooded areas. Also they warn you with Push-Notification if you enter a danger zone, as long as you have activated GPS on your mobile device.

 

Beware of flash floods
Weather changes are very likely in the desert. Desert thunderstorms come on quickly and without warning and can uproot trees and move boulders. Because of the dryness the soil cannot soak up water quickly, so heavy rains can produce flood conditions rapidly and without warning. Dry channels, ditches and lake beds will fill quickly and the water can be strong and violent. If it rains heavily, move to higher ground and wait until it’s over. And don’t drive into a flooded area, you never know how deep the water or how strong the current is. Remarkably, more people drown in the desert than die of thirst!