Summer is officially here!
The sun is beaming on top of the northern hemisphere and it can be brutally hot. For many, this is the time of year when the outdoors beckons their spirit and “al fresco” activities are on the radar. Catching a baseball game, hiking mountains or swimming in the ocean are just some of the things people do in these summer months. Last week I wrote about the role of sun protection while you “do your thing” out of doors and this week it’s about hydration.
It couldn’t be a timelier subject as my son has been in baseball camp for the last two weeks. Living in south Florida you can only imagine the heat. All of the kids on his team were red faced, dewy perspiration under their eyes. My son, generally a ball of energy, approached me listlessly. I gave him attention and then continued on talking with the coaches. While chatting, I noticed my son sitting on the field and then rolling into a little ball. “I’m so thirsty,” he said when I went over to him. I quickly got him drinking and into the air conditioned car. I checked the rear view every chance I had making sure he was alright as I drove us to the nearest market to pick up some cold electrolyte infused liquid.
Dehydration is something that can happen to anyone. I recall a nurse telling me that her brother, a carpenter, had actually died from dehydration. I was floored. Needless to say I drove like a Nascar driver to the closest store to restore my son’s fluids. A person becomes dehydrated when they lose an excessive amount of body fluid. As the symptom pertains to the outdoors, this occurs when a person is sweating in order to cool the body’s temperature and not taking in enough water. Dehydration can occur in children as well as adults and can manifest via dry mouth, dark urine, vomiting and/or exhaustion.
A handy chart available on Medicinenet.com illustrates the amount of water a body needs for a person’s weight. In my five year olds son case, at forty-eight pounds his intake needs to be at least fifty ounces. To help prevent dehydration, wear loose fitting clothes that allow the body to breathe as it perspires to keep your body temperature normal. Take breaks and head for the shade if there is any. Also, the obvious preventative measures are to drink lots of fluids, namely water.
Begin by drinking water prior to an activity and every twenty minutes thereafter. For young adults and adults, it’s a good idea to limit your caffeine intake and for those over the age of twenty-one, avoiding alcohol will help you stay hydrated and keep you “in the game.” Whether you’re walking your dog at a brisk pace, weeding your garden beds, playing an inter-office game of kickball, take regular water breaks to replenish the fluids your body lost during perspiration. Hot, windy weather is particularly dehydrating so if these conditions exist, be sure to go extra hard on the water. Sports drinks that have electrolytes are best suited for those engaged in vigorous exercise or activity. Water, however, should still be consumed in addition to these beverages.
Summertime is a wonderful time of year that we cherish as a culture. It’s filled with BBQ’s, swimming, biking, yard work and spending time at the beach. Take care when enjoying this special season by making sure that you have all the bases covered to stay safe and comfortable. Proper sun protection, loose fitting clothing that allows your body to breathe and lots of water are key to keeping your body healthy during these warm months.
In good health,
Heidi Aspen Lauckhardt-Rhoades
Writer and Social Media Correspondent