During a heat wave, drinking water is more important than ever

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It’s scorching hot outside, and it doesn’t look like relief is coming soon. Heat waves such as this one are always accompanied by news stories of dehydration and heat stroke. One of the most important things you can do to avoid becoming a statistic is to DRINK MORE WATER.  An article on National Geographic’s website explains that the human body isn’t built for such high temperatures, and it doesn’t take long for damage to set in when we don’t have adequate hydration: “When people can’t drink enough water, dehydration sets in. Blood flow to the skin decreases, along with the ability to sweat. Body heat builds up. A body temperature of 104 degrees indicates danger; 105 degrees is the definition of heat stroke; and a temperature of 107 degrees could result in irreversible organ damage or even death,” the article states. 

Medical experts say the best way to meet your hydration needs is to drink plain old water.

Here at LCA, we couldn’t agree more. Just take a look at some information from WebMD  about the importance of H20:

  • Water makes up about 83% of blood, 73% of muscles, 25% of body fat, and 22% of bones.
  • Water keeps every part of your body working properly. It helps your body flush wastes and stay at the right temperature. 
  • Cold water hydrates, cools, and refreshes you like nothing else. 

The National Weather Service has a number of tips for staying safe in the heat, along with signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses. We’ve listed a few of them below. Please read them, and take care of yourself!

Safety Tips for Adults

  • Slow down. Reduce, eliminate or reschedule strenuous activities until the coolest time of the day. Children, seniors and anyone with health problems should stay in the coolest available place, not necessarily indoors.
  • Dress for summer. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing to reflect heat and sunlight.
  • Put less fuel on your inner fires. Foods, like meat and other proteins that increase metabolic heat production also increase water loss.
  • Drink plenty of water, non-alcoholic and decaffeinated fluids. Your body needs water to keep cool. Drink plenty of fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney or liver disease, are on fluid restrictive diets or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a physician before increasing their consumption of fluids. Do not drink alcoholic beverages and limit caffeinated beverages.
  • During excessive heat periods, spend more time in air-conditioned places. Air conditioning in homes and other buildings markedly reduces danger from the heat. If you cannot afford an air conditioner, go to a library, store or other location with air conditioning for part of the day.
  • Don’t get too much sun. Sunburn reduces your body’s ability to dissipate heat.

Heat-Related Illness Symptoms and First Aid

HEAT CRAMPS

  • Symptoms:
    • Painful muscle cramps and spasms usually in legs and abdomen
    • Heavy sweating
  • First Aid:
    • Apply firm pressure on cramping muscles or gentle massage to relieve spasm.
    • Give sips of water, if nausea occurs, discontinue water

HEAT EXHAUSTION

  • Symptoms:
    • Heavy sweating
    • Weakness
    • Cool, pale, clammy skin
    • Weak pulse
    • Possible muscle cramps
    • Dizziness
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Fainting
    • Normal temperature possible
  • First Aid:
    • Move person to a cooler environment
    • Remove or loosen clothing
    • Apply cool, wet cloths
    • Fan or move victim to air conditioned room
    • Offer sips of water. If nausea occurs, discontinue water. If vomiting continues, seek immediate medical attention.

HEAT STROKE (or sunstroke)

  • Symptoms:
    • Altered mental state
    • Possible throbbing headache, confusion, nausea, dizziness, shallow breathing
    • High body temperature (106°F or higher)
    • Skin may be hot and dry, or patient may be sweating
    • Rapid pulse
    • Possible unconsciousness
  • First Aid:
    • Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency. Summon emergency medical assistance or get the victim to a hospital immediately. Delay can be fatal.
    • Move the victim to a cooler, preferably air-conditioned, environment
    • Reduce body temperature with a water mister and fan or sponging
    • Use fan if heat index temperatures are below the high 90s
    • Use extreme caution
    • If temperature rises again, repeat process
    • Do NOT give fluids