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Everything you need to know to survive Denver’s high-plains desert climate

For those of you who’ve attended previous Sirens in Vail and Beaver Creek, this year’s conference in Denver may be a respite. After all, we’ll be 3000 feet lower in elevation!

At 5,280 feet above sea level, Denver’s altitude is exactly one mile high—but Denver is not actually in the mountains. Even though Denver’s elevation does not give rise to altitude sickness or other health concerns associated with mountain towns (most airplane cabins are pressurized between 5,000–8,000 feet as a safe and healthy range for most people), we beseech you to not be complacent—as much of Colorado is actually a high-plains desert. What does this mean?

Here’s our hard-won advice:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Drink water early and often—you can even drink a sports drink, with electrolytes, for an extra boost. Even better, start increasing your water intake a few days before traveling to Sirens to help your body adjust more easily. Remember: it’s easier to prevent dehydration in the first place than to recover from its effects! And we’ve got you covered: we’ll have Sirens water bottles for sale in our community room, with some of our fabulous artwork.

  • Balm it up. Because of the lack of moisture in the air, you might need to apply extra lip balm, nasal spray, eye drops, and lotion to keep yourself comfortable.

  • Eat a snack. May your bellies be full. Even at Denver’s altitude, you might have a bigger appetite than you would normally—your body is working extra hard to compensate for less oxygen and lower temperatures.

  • Be aware of the sun. Here, the air is thinner, making you more susceptible to sunburn—so make sure that you cover up and apply sunscreen if you’re going for a walk or lounging outside. Bring your sunglasses, too! Believe us, your eyes can burn.

  • Take it easy. Did we mention the air is thinner? That means there is less oxygen going to your brain—so you’ll breathe faster to compensate, at least while you adjust. If you notice that you’re fatigued more quickly while exercising or climbing stairs, give yourself a little extra time to adjust to your environment.

  • You might need more sleep than usual. You might be really tired from the plane ride in, or the opposite and suffering from jetlag. It’s often the case that your sleep patterns change when you travel, but it never hurts to take a nap when you’re a mile up!

  • Alcohol will have a greater effect on you, so imbibe judiciously. One drink at sea level equals at least two in Denver. Please consider moderating your drinking—and drink plenty of water during and afterwards. If not, your headache the next morning probably isn’t altitude sickness; it’s a hangover. (And if you complain, we will be tempted to give you the side-eye…)

  • If you feel a headache coming in, up your fluid intake and try taking ordinary painkillers. Chances are, you’ll feel much better with some rest, too.

For more information, you can check out our page on Denver. Any other questions, please contact us at (help at sirensconference.org). We’re looking forward to seeing you all next week, and we want your experience at Sirens to be amazing!

Previous versions of this post ran in October 2017 and October 2018.

 

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