By John Schlageck, Kansas Farm Bureau
We’re locked in the Dog Days of summer and the humidity is rolling through the roof. If the first few days of August are any indication, this summer may continue well into September. And while some don’t venture outdoors much except on weekends, for many outdoor work continues as usual.
Working outside in 95 to 100-degree heat can result in dehydration. Farmers, ranchers, construction workers and other folks who toil in the sun can forget to drink enough fluids.
Every year, emergency rooms and health-care facilities across Kansas treat cases of heat exhaustion. Often it takes two to three days to recover from severe heat exhaustion.
Anyone working outdoors during the summer months should always have plenty of fluid within easy reach. Drink small amounts, up to a pint, and drink often.
While experts don’t always agree, water still seems to be one of the best fluid replacements for those who work in the summer sun.
Sports drinks are also recommended, especially those that contain no more than 8 percent carbohydrates.
Pure fruit juice mixed with an equal amount of water is another excellent drink to replace lost fluids.
Avoid beer and other alcoholic beverages that only lead to greater dehydration. Carbonated beverages and drinks high in caffeine should also be avoided.
Don’t rely on how thirsty you are to gauge when to replenish your liquids while working or playing in the sun. Your thirst mechanism isn’t always reliable.
In classic cases of dehydration people feel unusually tired. The victim may have a headache and is usually nauseous. In severe cases, people perspire profusely, are extremely weak and their skin is usually pale and clammy.
If these symptoms occur, move the victim into the shade immediately and loosen any tight fitting clothing. Offer the person cool fluids, but applying ice to the body or drinking extremely cold liquids can make the symptoms worse.
In extreme conditions, such as heat stroke where the person has hot, dry skin, take the victim to a medical facility immediately to receive necessary evaluation and care.
Remember, the key to avoiding heat exhaustion is drinking plenty of cool water throughout the day. Anything that heats the body, such as exercise or strenuous work, puts an extra load on the system. Fortunately, these conditions can almost always be prevented with sensible hot-weather care.
Make mine water – nature’s natural coolant.
John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. Born and raised on a diversified farm in northwestern Kansas, his writing reflects a lifetime of experience, knowledge and passion.