Hydration

Remember to hydrate before and during an incident with both water and electrolyte replacement drinks; water alone will not rehydrate you.

What is dehydration?

Dehydration is an excessive loss of body fluids from the tissues that is accompanied by an imbalance in electrolytes such as sodium, and potassium. Dehydration is a risk to everyone throughout everyday life; however the risk is increased in older adults, children and people undertaking strenuous work. Whilst undertaking strenuous work you can lose over one litre of fluid per hour, which significantly increases the risk of dehydration and exhaustion.

Dehydration may result in:

  • Impairment of the body's ability to regulate heat, resulting in increased body temperature and an elevated heart rate.
  • Increase in perceived exertion, causing the person to feel more exhausted than usual at a given work rate.
  • Reduced mental function, which can have negative implications for motor control, decision making and concentration.
  • Heat related illnesses such as cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
  • Fatigue, headaches and / or dizziness.

How do I control it?

Pre-hydration (maintaining an intake of fluids and electrolytes prior to responding to calls) is key to the prevention of dehydration. It is recommended that when undertaking physical activity in extreme weather conditions (greater than 30°C, accompanied by extremely low or high levels of humidity) that you drink up to 1200 ml of water per hour with a 600 ml electrolyte replacement drink per hour. In the absence of heavy/hot work load the required intake of fluids is reduced. Electrolyte replacement drinks should not exceed 6% glucose. High levels of glucose can increase the effects of dehydration. These recommendations will help you achieve a hydrated state.

Using the ‘P chart’ is a helpful way to determine your current level of hydration. Use the recommendations to help you reach a hydrated state.

 

 

Avoid dehydration by:

  • Reducing your intake of caffeine, saturated fats and alcohol during high risk times
  • Carrying a water bottle and drinking regularly
  • Avoid strenuous activity during times of hot weather
  • Monitoring your urine colour
  • Consuming electrolyte replacement drinks if required