Friday, August 19, 2011

Dehydration and Water Purification

Water is a critical element of the body, and adequate hydration is a must to allow the body to function. Up to 75% of the body's weight is made up of water. Dehydration occurs when the amount of water leaving the body is greater than the amount being taken in.

Early or Mild Signs of Dehydration:
  • Dry or "sticky" mouth
  • Thirst
  • Headache
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Hotheadedness or dizziness
  • Reduced urination/ Dark urine

Moderate or More Advanced Signs of Dehydration:
  • Extreme dry mouth 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Significantly reduced urination/ very dark urine
  • Crying without tears
  • Lack of sweat, even during intense exercise
  • Increased body temperature
  • Increased heart rate
  • Cold hands and feet

Signs of Severe Dehydration (A Medical Emergency):
  • Behavioral changes (increased fear, anxiety, embarrassment)
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tingling limbs (pins and needles)
  • Racing pulse
  • Vomiting
  • No urination
  • Fever
  • Shriveled, dry skin
  • In extreme cases, loss of consciousness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures

Dehydration Prevention:
Tip #1- Plan ahead and take extra water to all outdoor events where increased sweating, activity, and heat stress will increase fluid loss. Encourage athletes and people who work outside to replace fluids at a rate that equals the loss.

Tip #2- Check weather conditions for  the area you will be in. When temperatures are high avoid exercise, outdoor exposure, and plan events that must occur outside during times of the day when temperatures are lower.

Tip #3- The young and old are most at risk of dehydration. Ensure that old people, infants, and children have adequate drinking water or fluids available and assist them if necessary.

Tip #4- Avoid alcohol consumption, especially when it is very hot because alcohol increases water loss and impairs your ability to recognize early signs associated with dehydration.

Tip #5- Wear light colored and loose fitting clothing if you must be outside when it is hot.

Tip #6- Break up your exposure to hot temperatures. Find air-conditioning or shady areas and allow yourself to cool between exposures.

Tip #7- Know the signs and symptoms of heat cramps, heat rash, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Preventing dehydration is one step to avoid these conditions.

About Dehydration (I am  sorry this video starts automatically I don't know how to make it not do that)

Water Purification:
Along with knowing the symptoms and prevention of dehydration you should also know about water purification. What if you are out walking the dog, taking a short hike, or even a longer multi day hike and you get lost and/or run out of water? Water purification is the proses of removing undesirable chemicals, materials, and biological contaminates from contaminated water.

Common Myths:
Myth #1- Running water or white water is safe to drink
Don't count on it. Remember it comes from somewhere and the source or what it comes in contact with between the source and reaching your location could be suspect. Typically if you have to choose between running water and stagnate water always default to the former but make sure you also treat and purify the water before you consume it.

Myth #2- Eating snow is a great way to rehydrate safely
No, This can actually lead to further dehydration due to the process your body has to go through to heat and melt the snow once you eat it. It can also lead to hypothermia. If the snow has been on the ground for a significant period of time it could contain bacteria and other organisms that can make you sick. Always try to melt snow before you consume it. If the snow if not white or fresh, stay away from it or at least make sure you purify and treat it as you would any other suspect water (after you melt it).

Myth #3- Drinking saltwater in small amounts is safe
No, Drinking saltwater in any amount will lead to further dehydration and death more quickly than if you went without water at all. you can use saltwater to cool down your body but never to drink.

Myth #4- Drinking urine will prevent dehydration
You can drink urine 1 to 2 times in an extreme emergency but remember, urine is how you pass waste products out of your body. There is more water than waste products in a well hydrated individual however the ratio goes down as your hydration levels go down. Hence your urine will become darker colored as you become more dehydrated. It is a process of diminishing returns and eventually your body will shut itself down.

Myth #5- Barrel cacti are great source of water
This is not necessarily true.Although cacti do hold water, the odds are that the inside will be tough and fibrous and the water contained will not be abundant. In addition there is a greater likelihood that the water inside will be bitter and acidic which could induce vomiting, diarrhea, and cramps. This would further complicate a survival situation and speed up dehydration.

Video on water purification


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