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Staying Hydrated on the Job

During the summer months, it’s important to stay hydrated while on the job.

How the Body Handles Heat

The human body maintains its internal temperature through various processes, and is efficient at maintaining a fairly constant internal temperature, even when exposed to varying environmental temperatures. This thermoregulation causes your body to shiver when it’s cold and sweat when it’s hot. And a body that is properly hydrated can thermoregulate better than a dehydrated one. To get rid of excess heat, the body dilates the arteries and veins at the skin’s surface to let heat energy radiate out of the body. Sweating starts next which further cools the body as it evaporates off the skin.

What is Dehydration?

Dehydration happens when your body is using or losing more fluids than you’re taking in. You lose fluids through sweat and urination and if you aren’t replacing those fluids and keeping up with your body’s demand, you can start to feel the symptoms of dehydration. The sweat then evaporates off the body, which works to begin cooling it down. Sweat is primarily composed of water and electrolytes, which are various salts excreted by the body. When the electrolyte balance in your body is low due to dehydration, you may start to notice muscle cramping as one of the first signs. Muscle cramps are one of the first signs of heat-related illness and a signal that rest, shade and rehydration are needed.

Tips for Staying Hydrated on the Job:

  • Drink water before, during and after your shift
  • Drink 5-7 ounces of fluids every 15-20 minutes
  • Keep individual containers of cool, clean water within easy reach at all times
  • Drink cool water, which is absorbed more quickly by the body rather than warm or very cold water
  • Try sports drinks with carbs and electrolytes to replenish those lost in sweat
  • Avoid coffee, tea and soda which act as a diuretic, and obviously, never drink alcohol during work. Try to limit or eliminate alcohol even after work if possible as it further dehydrates you