Hydrate or die.
This was not only a mantra that was drilled into me as a young Navy SEAL trainee – it is literally a state of mind for survival.
Someone can die from heat when they engage in physical activity when the heat production within their body exceeds the body’s ability to lower its own temperature adequately.
One of the main reasons for a heat related problem is dehydration.
It stems from a sudden loss of body fluids. If enough water is not consumed, or there is severe diarrhea, vomiting, or sweating, dehydration can occur.
In the short term, you will feel thirsty and hot.
In the long term, the best indicator that you are becoming dehydrated will be the color and frequency of urination: Less frequent and darker in color is bad. This will then lead to your organs shutting down and death will not be far behind.
My approach to survival has always been deal with that which will kill you first. Again, hydrate or DIE!
I’ll never forget Desert Warfare training in the mid-summer heat at the Spec War facility near Yuma, AZ.
It was so hot that we had to keep our rifles high ported (pointing to the sky) because rounds in the chamber were cooking off on their own.
There was no way to drink enough water. My brain and body were in a constant state of “drunken” delusion. My urine looked like orange juice.
Unfortunately, when we go to war it’s never at a Club Med. The desert is without a doubt one of the harshest environments on the earth.
Like I said, they never send you to war where they serve drinks with little umbrellas in them.
Treatment and prevention
Prevention is simple: Drink water constantly and not occasionally and STAY AHEAD of dehydration.
Water is one of the few things you simply can’t have too much of.
Additionally, avoid beverages that are high in sugar when hydrating.
Electrolyte-enhanced waters are great, or if unavailable you can make your own by adding a teaspoon of salt and some fresh squeezed orange, lemon, or lime juice to a liter of water.
Pickles (and pickle juice) are higher in electrolytes than beverages like Gatorade or Powerade and have been shown to reduce cramping cause by exertion in high temperatures.
The acetic acid in pickles and pickle juice are considered superior to the citric acid found in commercial sports drinks, at least when it comes to rehydration properties.
Fresh produce has very high-water content, so it’s a great way to hydrate without having to drink a ton of water. For example, an apple is up to 85% water by volume.
Again, remember to avoid any food that is high in sugar or contains caffeine.
Following these general rules will not only help you stay hydrated, but it’ll also keep you prepared and ready to act in case you ever do become dehydrated. Whether that be from exerting yourself in workouts, or simply out in the hot summer heat.
Stay safe, and stay hydrated!
Be a survivor, not a statistic,
Former Navy SEAL / 4Patriots Contributor