Do you know what the secret to going longer and harder on the fire ground is?
(Most firefighters don’t know)
This is especially true after they have exerted energy and I not only mean after firefighting and rescue efforts, but from calls where they’re just wearing their gear.
This time of year especially, hydration levels become extremely important and can be a major factor to you being able to perform on the job. Even when at rest, just the temperature outside can dehydrate you.
The Body and H2O
Did you know that on average your body is made up of 60% water?
Water helps breakdown nutrients to be used by the body. It flushes wastes out of the body, which keeps our kidney’s functioning properly. Water lubricates our joints, so we can move with greater ease. Lastly it regulates body temperature which can be especially crucial when our body is placed in extreme temperature situations such as firefighting operations.
If you are thirsty, it is already too late, you are dehydrated. Do something about this before it happens.
Try spreading out your daily required drinking of fluids throughout the day. Many people do not like to keep track of what they drink or even eat throughout the day, but remembering to drink a glass of water with every meal, having one before and after a workout, and drinking water during rehab on an incident can take you a long way in ensuring you try to stay hydrated.
How much water should you take in a day?
The body should take in approximately ½ gallon of water a day and more on high heat days especially during days at the fire station.
Other fluids can count toward this intake, but are not as effective as water. Take sodas for example,they are not good for the body. Many are loaded with high amounts of sugar and caffeine which add further stress to our systems.
Caffeine is a diuretic, causing the body to urinate more often. This can cause dehydration (we will look at effects of sugar on the body at a later date). I will say for now though fruit juices are naturally high in sugar so drink them in small quantities.
You can also eat fruits that are high in water content. This has other benefits as well such as vitamins and minerals that help the body function at that level we want it to do, when we are called upon.
Milk is considered a food more than a drink. It hydrates a child early in life but as we grow it stops doing this so much. As we age, many of us have problems drinking milk, because of lack of an enzyme that aids in its’ digestion. The body stops producing this enzyme called chymosin, before puberty.
There are many alternatives to water on the market now which are designed to encourage and help people hydrate. If you like to drink these sport drinks, cut them in half with water.
Remember you need water to live.
The body is mostly made of water and as we have just explained it’s essential for many other reasons. Here’s the point, you need it to live! You can never substitute the benefits from the pure natural product of water.
Do yourself a favor, drink more water and less of everything else. You’ll feel the difference.
Have you learned something new? Have you been reminded of something you already knew? Please share with me in the comments below.