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Staying Hydrated in the Great Outdoors

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Last week, I flew to Phoenix, Arizona, on business. The flight is only about an hour, and it’s on one of the smaller airplanes that feels like it might go down anytime there’s a bit of turbulence. (And there often is flying over the mountains of Utah.)

When we arrived at PHX, we disembarked down a small ramp to the tarmac and then took a short stroll to reach the terminal. But as I approached the building, I noticed nobody was going inside — the door was locked.

Oh, did I mention it was 111 degrees that day?

My fellow passengers and I were forced to wait in the blistering heat until someone with a key showed up to let us into the building. After only a few minutes, I was literally drenched in sweat and chugging water like crazy. (I always travel with at least one bottle of water.)

Thankfully, after about 10 minutes, the door was unlocked and we were let into the building. It was a good thing we weren’t out there much longer — some of the passengers looked like they might pass out.

Too Hot to Handle

The moral of this story is now that summer is in full swing, you need to be prepared with water everywhere you go so you can stay adequately hydrated. Heat exhaustion can quickly turn into heat stroke, and every summer far too many people die because they don’t drink enough water.

Johns Hopkins Medicine recommends taking the following preventative measures to avoid dehydration and heat illnesses:

  • Wear lightweight, tightly woven, loose-fitting clothing in light colors
  • Protect yourself from the sun by staying in the shade, wearing a hat or using an umbrella
  • Avoid strenuous outdoor activities during the hottest part of the day — from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — and spend as much time as you can indoors on exceptionally hot or humid days
  • If you have to be active outside, take frequent breaks. Also, fill an old spray bottle with cool water so you can mist yourself to keep from overheating.

Of course, the most important step you can take is drinking plenty of fluids. Water and sports drinks (to help maintain the balance of electrolytes) are your best options. Be sure to avoid caffeinated tea, coffee, soda or alcohol, which can exacerbate the symptoms of dehydration.

Untreated river water can cause Dysentery

Water, Water Everywhere

In addition to carrying a bottle of water with you (like I do when I fly), you can also stash water in any number of places so it’s always accessible when you need it.

At home, I keep an emergency case of bottled water in the back of every vehicle I own. (Yes, I also have a 72-hour kit and a SurvFilter in each car as well.) But to make things as easy as possible, just pick up a few 24-cases of bottled water at your local grocery and store one in the trunk of each of your cars.

I’ve never had to use this bottled water in an emergency per se, but it has come in very handy several times (and saved me many trips to 7-Eleven) while I was out and about during the summer and found myself extremely thirsty.

Don’t forget to stock the vehicles you drive less often. For example, I own a small camping trailer that we take to the lake each summer for a family reunion. In that trailer are several cases of water that can be used not only during our trip but any time of year when I need extra water.

Note that if you happen to live in a brutally hot place like Phoenix or Las Vegas, I recommend doubling the number of cases you keep in the car.

If you plan on traveling somewhere more remote and you don’t want to carry a bunch of water with you, remember that we are incredibly blessed to live in a time when you can order pretty much anything online and have it delivered anywhere with an address.

In other words, you could go to Amazon’s website right now, type in “water” and have bottled water shipped to your destination — sometimes within hours.

If you don’t want to invest in bottled water as a backup because of the waste, here’s a greener option. The WaterBricks water storage system holds 3.5 gallons of water in each portable, easy-to-carry container. Even better, they’re freezable.

Let’s say you and your friends plan a pickup game in the park or your family decides to hit the beach on a hot day. Freeze a few WaterBricks ahead of time so you can enjoy crisp, cold water as they melt.

Whatever you decide to do, get creative this summer to ensure that, no matter what, you never find yourself without access to clear, cool, life-giving water.

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