What is free of charge, yet each year millions of dollars are spent to purchase it, and gallon for gallon costs more than gasoline' Give up' It's water. This "free of charge" drink is a necessity to healthy living.

Many problems can and will occur if the body does not have enough water, starting with the dehydration of the body which is excessive loss of water from the body. Digestive problems, intestine problems, viruses, medications and a lack of adequate amounts of water consumed are a few reasons why dehydration occurs.

The human body is made up of two-thirds water. Water is essential to the body and staying hydrated enables the body to function properly. If the body doesn't have enough water, serious problems within the body can occur and possibly death.

Water helps regulate body temperature, moistens tissues and muscles, lubricates muscles and joints, prevents constipation, carries nutrients and oxygen to cells and other body parts as well as acting as a solvent to break down vitamins and minerals absorbed into the body. Without water, blood is very thick and causes the heart to work harder when it pumps. Water thins the blood which helps to prevent putting strain on the heart and the entire body.

It is vital that Soldiers as well as civilians stay hydrated when participating not only in extreme activities but also when engaging in everyday recreational activities. One of the most important precautions an individual can take to help prevent an injury is to stay properly hydrated.

During strenuous activities, coffee, tea, hot chocolate and soda should not be used as a thirst quencher. They are diuretics and can actually increase fluid output and lead to dehydration. When thirst sets in, it is often a late indicator of fluid needs during exercise. This is particularly true for the very young and the elderly - they often are unaware of their water needs or fail to respond to the body's signs of thirst.
Signs of dehydration:
Excess thirst - one of the first signs of dehydration.
Dry lips and mouth.
Sunken in, dark eyes.
Strong smelling, concentrated, dark urine. If someone is well-hydrated their urine will have a mild odor and be a straw color.
Become lethargic, e.g., laying around with no energy.
If there's a marked decrease in the frequency of urination or the amount of urine produced, there is cause to believe dehydration is setting in.
Staying hydrated
Drink often and drink regularly. Do not rely on thirst, by the time thirst sets in, there is already a significant fluid loss.
Drink more than just water, such as a sports drink like Gatorade; when exerted, the body loses electrolytes as well as fluid. Replacing the fluid alone (with just water) can lead to electrolyte imbalances. These imbalances can be life-threatening.
Monitor urine color; it should be the consistency of lemonade, not apple juice.
Take frequent breaks and replenish fluids to prevent dehydration.
With APG's Child, Youth & School-Age Services holding their summer camp activities, it is important the kids be kept hydrated all summer long.

"We provide drinks for our kids throughout the day to ensure they stay hydrated when participating in activities," said Gail Stone, training and program specialist for CYSS. "We do encourage campers to bring a personal water bottle. We keep bottles filled with water so when campers need to quench their thirst, they'll have quick access to water."

With all the hustle and bustle of kids and outdoor activities, there is a game plan that can work when prepping kids for activities:
Parents should pack water bottle filled with water or a sports drink for daily activities.
Parents should talk to the kids about keeping hydrated.
Have them drink 8 to 16 ounces (1 to 2 cups) about 60 minutes before play.
Let them take water breaks every 15 minutes during activities.

Encourage children to drink often. Re-enforce the signs and symptoms of dehydration, and make sure they know how to stay cooled and hydrated. Explain that even mild fluid losses hinder their performance.

Dehydration is more common than most parents realize, and the consequences range from mild to severe to even life-threatening. Don't let dehydration dampen their fun and weaken their game.

Page last updated Fri July 24th, 2009 at 13:00