|Dehydration and Firefighters, Athletes and Outdoor working folks
UC Berkeley-based agricultural personnel management specialist Howard Rosenberg warns
that excess heat can impair the body even before a person feels ill. Symptoms of heat stress
may include: general discomfort, loss of coordination and stamina, weakness, poor
concentration, irritability, muscle pain and cramping, fatigue, blurry vision, headache,
dizziness, nausea, confusion and unconsciousness. Although some of the heat that people
have to deal with at work comes from the sun and ambient air, most heat is generated by
their own bodies. Rosenberg says, "At rest the body produces little heat, but at work it
demands more energy and faster metabolism, which greatly increases internal heat
production." To cool itself, the body first increases blood flow toward the body surface. This
reduces the flow available to carry oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, brain and other
internal organs, which in turn impairs strength, diminishes alertness and accelerates
"When this mechanism doesn't release heat fast enough, sweat glands kick in," says
Rosenberg. "They draw water from the bloodstream to form sweat that carries heat across
outer layers of the skin and then evaporates." The loss of water through sweating impairs
the body's ability to cool itself later, and the loss of electrolytes in sweat can cause muscle
cramps and the symptoms mentioned above.
The longer sweating goes on, the less blood volume remains and the greater the health risk.
We recommend drinking water ever before being prompted by thirst because thirst is a late
signal of a water deficit. If firefighters, athletes or outdoor workers experience heat stress
symptoms, they should rest in a cool area and drink plenty of water and electrolyte fluids. If
heat stroke is suspected, medical attention should be sought. electroBlast provides the
proper number of minerals to form electrolytes when added to water and should be used on a
daily basis with additional hydration necessary during outdoor events.
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|Florida Study: Hydration Key to Firefighters' Safety
By KIMBERLY EDDS
The Orange County Register (California)
IRVINE A pioneering study into how dehydration and innate physical demands of firefighting affect performance is radically
changing the way the Orange County Fire Authority operates, setting aside long-held firehouse traditions in the interest of
science to maximize the efficiency of its workforce and keep firefighters from dying prematurely.
Hundreds of local firefighters are now rethinking their shift-change coffee klatch and soda habits in the wake of the fire
authority study, which laid out significant lapses in understanding the damaging effects of dehydration and a lack of effective
rehabilitation practices to protect firefighters' health.
Nearly half the firefighters whose deaths are related to duty die not in fiery infernos or dramatic building collapses, but of
heart attacks and coronary events, most within 24 hours of the time the fire alarm sounds. Swigs of water and a few
minutes' rest are being swapped for some quality time under an ice-cold towel -- a now-proven way to quickly bring racing
heart rates back to normal. The fire authority is also looking at different electrolyte-replacement drinks to rehydrate crews
during longer firefights.
Read the study
Read the Orange County Fire Authority study results at www.ocfa.org/_uploads /pdf/hydrationstudy.pdf.