Proper hydration for firefighters

Gordon Graham says the time to think about hydration is now, not when you are immersed in an exhausting activity

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today I want to talk to firefighters about the proper hydration. 

The time to think about hydration is now. Not when you are immersed in an exhausting activity.

When you’re fighting fires, your body is under significant stress. Consider the weight of your gear. Add extreme temperatures. Add increased heart rate and respiration. The amount of energy you burn is incredible. Staying hydrated under these conditions is important.  

Proper hydration is critical to your health. Especially when you’re working hard under extreme conditions. If you are dehydrated, you’re at an increased risk of a heat emergency, muscle spasms, or heart arrhythmias. 

So, what should you do? Simply put, stay hydrated. Exactly how much water you need is a topic of some debate. Some people recommend drinking at least eight, 8-oz. glasses of water daily. Some recommend drinking at least 16 ounces of water first thing in the morning. On an empty stomach.  

Juices, sodas, and other beverages are better than nothing. But nothing is as good as simple H-2-O. Of course, the actual amount you might need can vary due to environmental conditions, body mass, and intensity of physical activity.  

How do you know if you might be in jeopardy? Watch your urine color. Without getting too personal, the color of your urine can provide critical information about your hydration. The darker the color, the more dehydrated you are. You can find some good color charts on-line to help measure your hydration. 

The time to think about hydration is now. Not when you are immersed in an exhausting activity. Get yourself a water bottle. Keep it filled. Remember that conditions like extreme heat and cold can accelerate dehydration. 

Get hydrated and stay hydrated. 

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham signing off.

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