Friday, November 8, 2013
If you’re exerting yourself, or the ambient temperature is high, it takes only a matter of hours before you begin to experience the effects of dehydration. The symptoms come slowly, quietly, and unless you’re paying attention you won’t notice what’s happening.
Your blood thickens, and the blood volume is actually reduced. Your pulse speeds up, as your heart is forced to work harder to move enough blood through your body. You become exhausted. Your mind ceases to function well, and you begin to make errors in judgment that can, in a survival situation, lead to injury or death. But even without any big mistakes, death comes soon enough, unless you can find a good source of water and drink your fill.
A somewhat loose method of determining the level of dehydration can be done by monitoring the quantity and color of your urine. The more dehydrated you become, the less urine you produce. Along with that, the color of the urine becomes more yellow as dehydration becomes worse. Ideally, it should be clear to very light yellow. One caution though — if you’re taking vitamin B, supplements, the color of urine will be artificially dark yellow, even if you’re not dehydrated. Other than that, just pay attention, and if your pee gets dark yellow, know that dehydration is getting severe.
Don’t wait until you feel thirsty before you drink, and keep drinking even though your thirst has been satisfied. It may be hard to believe, but thirst is a poor trigger for drinking water. This is especially true during colder winter months. So drink regardless of your thirst. Avoid alcohol consumption, because that actually promotes dehydration. Drinking pure water is always the best solution to the problem of dehydration.
Along with drinking more water, slow your pace to prevent sweating. Move slowly, take frequent breaks, lay low during the heat of the day. Adjust your clothing and your workload to help reduce the amount you are perspiring.
Dehydration is not solely a wilderness survival problem. You can die from dehydration in your own home or on the streets of your city, if there is insufficient water to drink. A natural disaster that disables a city water supply during the heat of summer can plunge thousands of people into an urban survival situation all at once. A terrorist attack against a water supply can do the same thing. So it's a good idea to stock up on a supply of drinking water for those possible emergency situations. And keep a supply of water in your vehicles as well.
Paying attention to these strategies will help you avoid becoming a victim of dehydration.