Water is something most of us take for granted. We drink it to quench our thirst, overlooking the importance of hydration for bodily function.
The truth is, hydration plays a vital role in keeping our bodies’ organ systems functioning properly. Without it, we face fatigue, reduced cognitive function, and decreased reaction time and agility. In high-stress emergency situations, these impairments can mean the difference between life and death.
The Importance of Proper Hydration Care
Studies indicate that 55%-78% of our bodies are made of water, depending upon age and muscle mass. The average adult male’s body is 60% water. Losing as little as 1-2% of your body weight in water can significantly impact one’s bodily functions.
However, it isn’t uncommon for law enforcement and rapid response teams to sweat out as much as 6-10% of their water weight during high-pressure situations. This loss in water weight leads to decreased endurance, strength, speed, reaction time, and agility.
Proper care helps:
- Maximize physical performance.
- Regulate blood pressure.
- Improves cognitive function.
- Regulate body temperature.
- Ensures organs function properly.
- Improves reaction time.
As the summer heat approaches, your response teams are at an increased risk of dehydration. This jeopardizes the health and safety of your team members and the public.
Warning Signs of Dehydration
It’s a common myth that you only need to drink water if you’re thirsty. The truth is, that thirst and decreased urine output are your body’s first defense against dehydration. These initial responses signal the beginning stages of dehydration and are your body’s attempt to conserve water loss.
As dehydration progresses, more symptoms start to occur. Further signs and symptoms include:
- Muscle cramps.
- Lightheadedness, particularly when standing.
- Sweat, tear, and urine production decreases.
- Dark-colored urine.
- Dry mouth and skin.
- Heart palpitations.
- Nausea and vomiting.
As dehydration continues, the body goes into survival mode, working to maintain cardiac output. The body begins to shunt blood flow away from non-essential organs in an effort to protect essential organs like the brain, kidneys, heart, and lungs. As blood flow continues to decrease, weakness and confusion set in, eventually leading to coma, organ failure, and death.
How to Avoid Dehydration During Riot Situations
To ensure the safety of your security force and the public, it’s essential that your team is educated on proper hydration. Water intake needs are very individualized. Factors such as gender, age, weight, level of physical activity, and environmental conditions impact how much water you need per day.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all rule, the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine does offer these guidelines:
- Men – Approximately 15.5 cups per day.
- Women – Approximately 11.5 cups per day.
Scientists and medical professionals offer additional tips for avoiding dehydration:
- Drink fluids throughout the day.
- Come to work hydrated. Drink between 8 and 16 ounces of water an hour before.
- Drink water throughout the emergency situation. Just 2-3 large gulps of water a few times an hour can make a huge difference.
- Hydrate with sports drinks during and after the event, particularly in hot or humid conditions.
- Replace water weight lost. Experts recommend drinking 16-20 ounces of water per pound lost. It should be standard procedure for team members to weigh themselves before and after an event.
- Listen to your body. Urine color is an indicator of your hydration status. Pale yellow urine every 2-3 hours is a sign of proper hydration.
- Wear proper clothing. Lightweight riot suits equipped with hydration systems and cooling protection help avoid dehydration.
Avoid Dehydration with Haven Gear’s Lightweight Riot Suits
As the summer heat ramps up, law enforcement prepares for another season of riots and protests. Haven Gear’s riot suits are lightweight and equipped with innovative technology that keeps officers hydrated and safe while on the job. Each suit is fully customizable and designed to meet your force’s unique protective gear needs.