Staying hydrated in winter

Most people think about dehydration in summer when exercise, sunshine, heat and humidity all play a big factor. However, don’t rule out the colder winter months when staff, campers and guests can easily get dehydrated without knowing it. Dry, winter air can rapidly evaporate sweat away from the skin. That combined with losing water vapor when breathing can quickly accelerate the onset of dehydration.

An adult body is made up of about 60 percent water, and this percentage varies by age, gender and fitness level.  Water is extremely important to your health because it’s involved in every type of cellular process within your body.  When you’re dehydrated, more water is moving out of your cells and body then it takes in, and this results is your body running less efficiently.  You might not even feel as thirsty in cold weather because your cold-weather body chemistry can affect your brain’s ability to tell you when you need liquid.  

According to The Mayo Clinic, some typical signs of moderate dehydration include:

  • Dry mouth, lips and skin
  • Increased thirst
  • Decreased urine output and constipation
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Headache, confusion and irritability
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness and fainting          

Here are some tips from medical professionals on how you can practice habits for consuming more water daily:

  • Carry an insulated sports bottle or bottled water with or have a cup/glass handy and fill it up periodically.  If it’s right next to you, you’ll likely get in the habit of sipping from it without even realizing it. 
    • Keep it within easy reach on your desk or workstation at work.
    • Keep it next to your bed, as many of us wake up somewhat dehydrated in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning.
  • Switch one glass of soda or cup of coffee for a glass of water.
  • Drink small amounts of water throughout the day instead of a lot of water at one time.
  • As part of camping/hiking outings, group events, workouts or sport activities, provide water for participants to consume before, during and at the conclusion of the activity.
  • Eat foods that are high in water content, such as fruits and vegetables or yogurt.
  • Be aware of medicines you take that have diuretic effects because they can cause you to urinate more frequently, this removes water from your body at a faster rate.

For your body to function properly, you must replenish its water supply by consuming beverages and foods that contain water. Work with your camp’s or conference center’s medical provider to train staff on how to be on the lookout for signs of dehydration.  This training should include steps to take to help re-hydrate a person and provide any additional first-aid or medical assistance.  It’s important to recognize that rapid and continued fluid loss, if left untreated, can lead to severe dehydration, related health complications and even death.       

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P.O. Box 357 | 3000 Schuster Lane | Merrill, WI 54452-0357
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