Drink to Your Health (and Safety)!

Water seems so ordinary that we may forget how vital it is.  Between 40% and 60% of our body’s mass is made up of water, and nearly every major function of the body requires it. Water regulates body temperature, carries nutrients and oxygen to cells, aids in digestion, and also cushions joints, organs, and tissues.

It was Ben Franklin who once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” but he wasn’t thinking about hydration. Better to bump the prevention to 64 ounces of water on a hot day and you’ll be in the ballpark.  An article by the Mayo Clinic, offers three common ways to calculate the amount of water you need to consume in an average day:

  • Replacement approach – Replace what you lose through normal body functions (about 2 liters or a little more than 8 cups)
  • 8x8 – Consume eight 8-ounce glasses or 64 ounces of water a day as a rule of thumb
  • Dietary recommendations – Consuming 9 to 13 cups of total beverages a day is recommended by the Institute of Medicine

It stands to reason that working in hot and humid environments can increase the rate our body uses and loses water. So when the temperature or your activity level rises, increase your overall fluid intake accordingly. On hot days and during periods of extended activity, our body also loses certain minerals through metabolism and sweat. Alternating between water and electrolyte replacement/sports drinks during the day can help maintain good hydration.

But when that’s not enough, you should be aware of dehydration indicators that merit immediate attention:

  • Cessation of sweating (your body is not producing sweat even though you are exercising heavily and/or it is hot)
  • Excessive weakness or fatigue (you feel more weak or tired than you should)
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness 
  • Cramping
  • Pale or flushed skin 
  • Chills (you may feel cold even though it is hot outside)
  • Nausea
  • Incoherence (you feel “out-of-it”you do not understand what someone is saying)

If you experience any of these symptoms when you are working, get out of the heat and report immediately to your supervisor. And don’t forget to look out for your co-workers. After all, not everyone reads what we write here!

More information of proper hydration can be found through the following web links:

Enjoy the summer and stay cool. And hydrated.