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Proper Hydration

When it is as hot as it is our bodies lose lots of water when working in the outdoors. Water is important to the body as it keeps the body from overheating. The main way the body discards heat in warm weather is through sweat. As sweat evaporates, it cools the tissues beneath. Lots of sweating reduces the body's water level, and this loss of fluid affects normal bodily functions.

When it is as hot as it is our bodies lose lots of water when working in the outdoors. Water is important to the body as it keeps the body from overheating. The main way the body discards heat in warm weather is through sweat. As sweat evaporates, it cools the tissues beneath. Lots of sweating reduces the body's water level, and this loss of fluid affects normal bodily functions.

How to avoid dehydration

To avoid dehydration, active people should drink at least 16- 20 ounces of fluid one to two hours before an outdoor activity. After that, you should consume 6 to 12 ounces of fluid every 10 to 15 minutes that you are outside. When you are finished with the activity, you should drink more. How much more? To replace what you have lost: at least another 16 to 24 ounces (2- 3 cups).

One way to make sure you are properly hydrated is to check your urine. If it's clear, pale or straw-colored, it's OK. If it's darker than that, keep drinking!

Other tips for keeping workers hydrated and healthy:

  • Drink before, during and after physical labor to replace body fluid lost in sweating.
  • Anticipate conditions that will increase the need for water, including high temperature, humidity, protective clothing and difficulty of work.
  • Keep in mind that by the time you are thirsty, you are already about 2 percent dehydrated. Once you are dehydrated, it's difficult to make up for that lost hydration.
  • Drink 5 to 7 ounces of fluids every 15 to 20 minutes to ensure proper hydration. Keep individual containers of cool, clean water within easy reach at all times, and place water close enough to workers so they can reach it without abandoning the work area.
  • Drink cool water, which is absorbed more quickly by the body than warm or very cold fluids.
  • Drink carbohydrate/electrolyte drinks to help avoid heat cramps that can occur up to several hours after working.
  • Avoid coffee, tea or soda, and energy drinks which act as diuretics, further depleting the body of fluid. Never drink alcohol while working.
  • Even sedentary workers should drink eight 8-ounce servings of water every day. Take breaks throughout the day when needed, don't wait until it is too late.

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