It's that time of year in the South. We start seeing roofers, landscape workers, tennis players, golfers, and so on and so on and so on, people who wouldn't have to be there if they'd planned ahead, in our offices every day.
They all have two things in common: 1) They're dehydrated, and 2) they wouldn't have to have seen us if they'd taken some simple, inexpensive precautions.
You may not know this, but we're actually certified in oilfield safety and hydration by SafetySkills, so we aren't just blowing smoke. We went to class to help keep you out of our office. Here are some of the easy ways to avoid problems:
1) The hat thing can be tricky.
Though you want to keep the sun from beating you to death, a lot of people don't realize that when you're expelling body heat about 40% leaves via your head. It's important to be able to let heat escape your body. So what do you do? Hat, or no hat?
Hat... but do it wisely. Buy yourself a hat that will block the sun, but "breathe". Coolibar is a company that makes hats specifically designed to let you expel heat, but still block the sun. Artic Cool is another brand that makes great sun-blocking "breathable" fabric hats. They're not cheap, and most of them look dumb as hell, but they work.
If you don't want to spend the cash on those brands, you can always get a ball cap, but if you do make certain that you keep it damp with cool water. When you're in motion, say flying down the fairway or cart path in a golf cart, take the hat OFF and let the breeze created by your motion dry off your head and provide some cooling.
If you're a tradesman/woman, get this: FullSource.com (no we aren't affiliated and don't make any money from any of these people) sells ventilated HARD HATS. Nice. They are up to ANSI Class 2, so they aren't playing around. See if your boss will spring for that, or if you're the boss, spring for those for your hands.
2) Eat lunch like a hippy.
Hahahaha. As a meat and potatoes guy I couldn't resist that. So, I take my lunch to work most days now. Today it's ribs and a pudding pack, but I work indoors. If you take your lunch to work, this is the time of year to skip the bag of chips and try fruit.
Though there isn't a ton of hydration in a lot of fruit, it's a combination effect. If you eat salty chips like Doritos or Pringles you're taking in zero hydration and actually probably hurting yourself, because though everyone needs a little replacement salt on a sweaty day, those chips have too much. If you get rid of that negative, and add a slight positive with something like moist fruit, well, you're winning.
The best bets along these lines are grapes, oranges, and watermelon. Apples and so forth have some fluid benefits, but those three are bursting with juice and that's a good thing.
3) Don't be a hero.
Who's the better worker? 1) The person who just plain kicks butt straight through, takes no breaks, works, works, works, and then falls out with a heat stroke, ends up in the ER, misses work tomorrow, or all of the above, or 2) the person who stops every hour or so for 10 minutes, drinks plenty of water in the shade during those breaks, works near peak efficiency all day, and never misses a day of work? Give me that second person all day, every day. I bet your boss and their workers' comp insurance company think the same.
4) How much do you weigh?
That's awfully personal. ;-) Dr. Jack Dybis of IVme (one of the original IV centers in the country) is a hydration guru, and he has a pretty simple formula to determine how much water you need. Take your weight in pounds, divide it by 2, and that's how many ounces you need a day. Remember, that's when you AREN'T sweating profusely. Add 25% to that when you are. So, you're 150. Half of that is 75. That's 75 ounces of water a day needed by your body. But wait, you're sweating a ton at work or playing golf, or whatever. Add 1/4 to that. 75 is close to 80 for rounding purposes, and 20 is 1/4 of 80. Go back to the original 75, add the 20, and you need 95 ounces of water on those days.
5) Save it for later
It's tempting to have a drink at lunch if you're playing tennis in the afternoon. If you're headed out to do yardwork an ice cold beer sounds great. Well, save it for later. There's plenty of time for all that dehydrating alcohol AFTER you do whatever you're planning to do in the sun.
6) The Early Bird doesn't get a heat stroke.
I mowed my yard at 8:01 a.m. last weekend. I didn't want to upset my neighbors who might want to sleep in so I gave them til 8 to fire up the mower, but there's NO WAY I was going to be out in the heat mowing at 11 or 3 or any time of the sort. It's tough to get up that early on your day off, but if you're going to be working in the yard, playing golf or tennis, or doing anything outdoors, do it EARLY.
There's a reason the "siesta" is popular in Latin America. It's hot as hell during the midday down there. Folks start working at 5 or 6 in the morning, nap when it's unbearable, and start working again after the heat of the day. It's a thing for a reason. Try it.
7) Make a fashion statement
Well, sort of. Loose fitting, breathable fabrics are always the best choice. They may look goofy, but nothing looks worse than sitting in an ER. Make sure you have light, breathable fabrics that still block the sun.
So, that should all be fairly obvious, but I can promise you that some time today someone will walk into one of our locations completely dehydrated, wearing blue jeans, some thick cotton shirt, a baseball cap, and tell us they only had two beers and a bag of chips and aren't sure why they feel so bad.
Don't be that someone.
Until next time, stay Hydrated, Healthy, and Happy!