Don’t overheat, stay hydrated

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Not everyone realizes their bodies need water to maintain itself, not only during the hot-dry summer months, but year round.

Our bodies are made up of about 60 percent water, and every system depends on water. A human body uses water to maintain its temperature, lubricate joints and is an essential chemical needed for good health.

According to health care professionals, every cell, tissue, and organ in the human body needs water to function properly, and by keeping hydrated it also helps the heart more easily pump blood through the blood vessels to the muscles. Without adequate amounts of hydration, a person’s body can development muscle cramps and become dehydrated.

Diabetes, heart disease and certain other medical conditions may also mean people need to drink more water. Individuals with cystic fibrosis have higher concentrations of sodium in their sweat and also need to use caution to avoid dehydration.

It is medically proven that some medications can act as diuretics, causing the body to lose more fluid. It behooves people taking medications to read the label on the medicine bottles, do research on the internet about particular medicines, and if they can’t find the answers to their questions, then consult with a medical professional.

People need to be extremely aware of the need to maintain proper hydration levels when driving, picnicking, camping and hiking in Mohave County. The temperatures in the county hit the three-digit mark and hydration is a key to remaining healthy and the body functioning properly.

Drinking six to eight glasses of water each day may be adequate for some, but for others their bodies may require much more. A person who perspires heavily will need to drink more than someone who doesn’t.

If someone doesn’t like the taste of plain water, they can try adding lemon juice or some of the available commercial flavorings to it.

When out and about but not necessarily hiking, most people don’t realize their bodies need hydration.

The problem is the vast majority of people believe they won’t be far away from civilization and decide not to take containers of water with them. There have been numerous examples of motorists, campers, picnickers and hikers not being prepared, who got lost or stranded because their vehicle breaks down and needed help from rescuers because they became dehydrated.

Those numbers of rescue incidents could have been lessened or alleviated if only people took time to think, prepare and most importantly, take adequate amounts of water with them (even if just going on a short trip to the store, I always carry a couple of quarts of water with me. My wife, Chris, always ensures we have an ice chest with at least four bottles of water and frozen bottles of water just in case we break down).

Everyone must ensure their adventure plans and outings include all of the essential items and supplies, including water, needed for a safe and a fun-filled time.

Another important factoid people heading out must be concerned about - their pets. If someone believes it's hot for them, just imagine how their four-legged fur-covered family member feels. It would be like wearing a heavy winter jacket during the summer months.

Just about every day there are stories in the newspaper and on TV about an ill-prepared person or pet dying of heat exhaustion because preparedness wasn’t part of the adventure plans.

The loss of a family member or loved four-legged family member is difficult enough when death is expected and the passing is painless. However, losing a family member or pet of an avoidable case of heatstroke is an agonizing event many will never forgive themselves for, especially if they were to blame.

Most importantly, heat stroke and dehydration can occur in one’s yard while they are doing yard work and by allowing children and pets to experience the extreme heat.

Here are a few symptoms of overheating and heat stroke. They include, but are not limited to:

• Excessive thirst;

• Glazed eyes;

• Headaches;

• Vomiting and bloody diarrhea;

• Staggering;

• Elevated body temperature;

• Weakness and collapsing;

• Increased pulse and heartbeat;

• Seizures; and last, but not least;

• Unconsciousness.

If someone believes a person or pet is suffering from heat stroke or heat exhaustion, immediately attempt to cool their body down, and if that fails, call 911 because it is better to be safe than sorry.

A good rule of thumb is never trek off on an adventure during the hottest periods of the day without taking adequate supply of water. And if someone believes it is extremely hot; don’t subject the four-legged family member to possible death. Leave the dedicated four-legged member of the family home.

Remember don’t overheat, stay cool and hydrated. Don’t become a statistic or have a story in the newspaper or on TV saying you or that you’re loving pet died because of heat stroke or hear exhaustion.

Editor’s Note: Butch Meriwether is a member of the Mohave

County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Kingman Unit and has participated in numerous missions to search for individuals who got lost, became dehydrated and didn’t have adequate amounts of water with them.