Summertime Heat Safety Starts With Water
Working outdoors this summer? Do yourself a favor by making your water bottle your new best friend. As the mercury rises, the risk of heat stress and heat illness skyrockets. Being well hydrated is one of the best ways to keep your cool and stay safe.
That’s the whole point of National Hydration Day on June 23. So let’s raise a glass of H2O and toast these tips for giving your body the water it needs to make it through the day!
Get a head start on hydration. Have some water before you leave for work and on the way. Don’t wait to start drinking water till you’re on the jobsite. It may be too late by then for your body to catch up with the amount of water it needs — especially if you’re working in the sun and heat.
Make an appointment with your water bottle. When you’re out in the heat, drink 1 cup (8 ounces) of water every 15 to 20 minutes. If it’s hard to remember to drink, set a timer or use an app to remind you. It’s much better to drink small amounts more frequently than to drink a lot of water all at once every few hours. If you wait to drink till you’re thirsty, your body is already behind in hydration.
Don’t overdo it. Believe it or not, drinking too much water or other fluids like sports drinks or sodas can actually harm your body by throwing off the balance of salt in your blood. So don’t drink more than 48 ounces (1½ quarts) of fluids an hour.
Take a peek. When you’ve been working outdoors in the sun and/or sweating a lot, pay attention to the color of your urine. If it’s dark yellow-orange, you’re probably severely dehydrated; make sure to drink an appropriate amount of water in the next hour or two — and keep drinking throughout the day. In fact, unless your urine is colorless or very light yellow, you need to focus on keeping that appointment with your water bottle.
Keep it going. Don’t stop drinking water when you leave your worksite. More than likely, your body needs to continue replacing the fluid you’ve lost during the day. Here’s another benefit to keeping the water going after work: you’ll decrease your chances of chronic dehydration, which can lead to kidney stones and other uncomfortable and dangerous medical conditions.
Water Wins the Day
While it’s easy and tempting to grab a soda, sports drink or energy drink, your best bet to stay hydrated under the hot summer sun is almost always water. If you’re eating meals regularly, you’ll be getting the salt your body needs, so the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) does not recommend taking salt tablets. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you’re sweating heavily over the course of several hours, it is OK to have a sports drink with electrolytes, which also helps to replace lost salt.
Be especially careful with energy drinks when you’re working in outdoor heat. While tea, coffee and soft drinks don’t typically contain enough caffeine to cause a problem, energy drinks that are supercharged with caffeine can affect your heart when combined with heat stress. Also, it’s probably no surprise that drinking alcohol isn’t a good idea when you’re trying to stay hydrated — and it can increase your risk of heat illness.
In many places in the U.S., summertime heat is no joke! At CoolSys, your safety is our top priority, so please make sure you’re drinking plenty of water and taking other precautions to stay safe and healthy in the heat and humidity.