If there is a time when the end of the world as we know it happens, physical labor and exercise will increase, so learning how to stay hydrated will be very important. As some of us know, we can realistically only live for three days without water. The thing we may not think about is that dehydration can happen within hours depending on the circumstances. The circumstances that contribute to the amount of fluids to stay hydrated can be age, sex, height, weight, physical activity, outdoor temperature, humidity or lack thereof, and medical conditions. The thing to remember is when we lose water, due to sweating and evaporation; we must replace it to stay hydrated.
It used to be thought that an adult needs 8, 8 ounce glasses of water to stay hydrated, but this is so rigid of an estimation that it really should be taken with a grain of salt. There are other things we eat and drink that will get us the required fluids, so this is one of the reasons that the 8 x 8 myth is really not the “be all end all”. Many times the best way to gauge the amount of water needed is how we feel. If you start feeling thirsty or your mouth is dry, you are already dehydrated (though other things can cause this). Though this will indicate the need for water, it is not usually the best. The best way to gauge hydration is usually by examining your urine. If your urine is very light or almost clear this is often a good sign that you are adequately hydrated. If you your urine is a very dark yellow or you are not urinating as frequently as normal, you may be in the early stages of dehydration.
Dehydration can not only be deadly, but it can lead to bad decisions and much less productivity. Dehydration is from the lack of fluids in our body to keep our organs functioning correctly. The symptoms of dehydration are as follows:
- Dry mouth
- Lack of energy
- Headache and lightheadedness
- Less urination than normal (It will also be darker than normal)
- Serious irritability
- Inelastic and dry skin
- No urination
- No sweating
- Faster than normal heartbeat
- Fever and low blood pressure
We usually think of water when we think about hydration, but there are other things to do that can help you stay hydrated. You have probably seen the cartoons where the character just puts a spigot in a cactus and the water comes flowing out. While this is not realistic you can get moisture from plants and cacti that may keep you alive. The optimal solution is to have clean, running water to use, but if there is a disaster situation this may not be possible. Another option in this scenario is to have a water purifier that can be used to purify undrinkable water.
When all else fails, here are some things that you can do to stay hydrated when you have very little clean water to drink. In a desert situation, barrel cacti can be a good fluid source. You will have to cut into the cactus and suck out the moisture it holds. The prickly pear cactus fruit and pads can also be eaten; they also have a decent amount of liquid to help you stay hydrated. This can be risky as many cacti are poisonous and not edible. Be careful to correctly identify the cactus that you will be getting liquid from. salt tablets for runners
Many foods we eat also have water content. Most canned goods are a great place to find liquids, as the fruits and vegetables have juice. Soups are also very good because they are mostly water, plus they also have salt which can be good for staying hydrated. Eat as many fruits as possible. Watermelon is the best fruit as it is 90% water. Just eating watermelon could help you stay hydrated long enough to find a clean water source. Coconut water is also a great source of water to stay hydrated.
Sports drinks, milk and flavored waters are all good beverages to help you stay hydrated. Drinks with caffeine, including teas, coffee and soda are probably not the best option as they are diuretics (they will make you urinate more often). However, they are still better than nothing. Two things to totally avoid as they will actually increase your dehydration are alcohol and salt water.
The last thing that won’t help you hydrate, but may keep you from dehydrating, is being in cold water. Your skin does not absorb water, but it can keep you from sweating, therefore it will slow down dehydration. This can also keep you cool which will help you avoid heat exhaustion or heat stroke.