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31 May 17

How to Prevent Dehydration – ToolBox Talks

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Heat Stress Tool Box Talks Water

In 2014, OSHA kicked off an annual campaign to train and educate workers about heat stress management called Water. Rest. Shade. The following post will focus on water.

Download the Toolbox Talk PDF (Topic: Water) on the signs/symptoms of dehydration and effective hydration strategies to share with your crew.

Since heat stress often results from dehydration, staying properly hydrated is among the best ways to keep cool on a hot jobsite.

A hydrated body can thermoregulate better than a dehydrated one. As the body’s internal temperature increases, it sweats to dissipate heat and lower body temperature.

Water helps replenish the moisture lost through sweat. As a general guideline, the recommended amount of water intake is one quart per hour of active work or exercise for the average adult. That is the equivalent of 128 ounces (3.78 liters) every four hours at minimum. Per OSHA, it’s also suggested that the water intake be distributed over time (every 15 minutes during a shift).

Dehydration can occur easily in a hot environment as you sweat. Water is also lost every time you go to the bathroom and when you breathe by exhaling moisture.

Without sufficient water, even mild dehydration can drain energy, cause fatigue and impair mental alacrity.

Signs of dehydration may include:

  • Thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Dark colored urine
  • Less frequent urination
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea, dizziness or confusion
  • Hot, dry skin

But if you are working in high altitude or dry climate, thirst may not be a good indicator of dehydration. Plus, reduced thirst – perhaps due to changes in hormones and depleted dopamine levels as we age – leads to us drink less frequently.

Urine color is perhaps the best indicator of hydration level. Pale yellow to clear is normal and indicates good hydration. A pale honey, transparent color indicates normal hydration, but it may mean that rehydration may be necessary soon. A yellow, more cloudy color means the body needs water, while a dark yellow color isn’t healthy at all.

Here are a few handy hydration tips:

  • Keep a bottle of water handy and drink from it throughout the day. Continuous sipping of fluids is better than infrequent chugging!
  • Enhance your water intake with an electrolyte solution, sports drink, or salty snack.
  • Drink water before, during, and after your shift.
  • To make drinking water a habit, start and end each day with a glass.

Drinking water has a host of health benefits and the more workers can remember to do it, the better they’ll be able to beat the heat.

Toolbox Talks - Heat Stress