During our heat illness prevention trainings one thing we always emphasize is the importance of drinking water and staying hydrated, especially for outdoor workers. Our body is made up of 70% water, and it uses water for every function: for our brain to work/think properly, to extract the energy from the food we eat, and to discard what we do not need, etc. This is why staying hydrated is so important for our health and to keep our body functioning properly. Here are our suggestions for how much water you should be drinking and two simple ways to know if you are drinking enough.
How much water should I drink?
Because everyone’s body has different requirements, there is no golden rule on how much water everyone should drink. There are many factors such as body mass, level of activity, and weather that will affect exactly how much water you need on any given day. Because of this, we start with the following general suggestions:
On days that you are not very active or spending a lot of time indoors start with 8-10 cups of water (8oz each) per day. Make sure to spread these cups of water throughout the day.
On days that you are working outdoors and sweating significantly, we recommend drinking 4 cups of water (8oz each) per hour or 1 cup every 15 minutes. It sounds like a lot, but in order to stay hydrated while working in high temperatures, you need to replace all of the water you are sweating out.
Most people will not need to follow either of the above suggestions exactly. You will likely be somewhere in the middle. Once you decide how much water you think you should be drinking based on your circumstances, you can use the following guidelines to further refine your water intake.
Being thirsty is a good sign, right?
Many people wait until they feel thirsty to drink water, but thirst is a signal your body sends when you are already dehydrated. The goal is to make sure you are drinking enough water throughout the day so that you never actually feel thirsty. If you find that you still feel thirsty sometimes despite drinking water throughout the day, you should increase how often you drink.
Also, don’t drink too much all at once. Your body can only absorb a certain amount at a time! It’s better to drink more often throughout the day than to drink a lot in one sitting. Try sticking to 1 cup each time you drink.
Urine Color – What color should my pee be?
A simple way to gauge your level of hydration is to pay attention to the color of your urine. If your urine is very dark and has a strong odor, you are definitely dehydrated and should increase your water intake.
If your urine is completely clear, you are likely drinking too much. As mentioned earlier, your body can only absorb so much at a time, and once it is fully hydrated, it will just rid itself of the extra water.
You want your urine to be a pale yellow. This means you are drinking just enough to keep your body hydrated and to get rid of all the waste that your body eliminates through urine.
Heat Illness Prevention Training
Our heat illness prevention training was developed based on the findings of the California Heat Illness Prevention Study (CHIPS). If you are interested in having us conduct a training at your workplace, please don’t hesitate to reach out!