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The Importance of Staying Hydrated: August

During fireground operations (or exercise), drink cool, dilute fluids at a minimum rate of at least 8 oz. every 15 minutes or 34 oz. per hour. Those who are dehydrated must drink 8 oz. every 10 minutes or 50 oz. per hour. Photo Brian Bastinelli

During fireground operations (or exercise), drink cool, dilute fluids at a minimum rate of at least 8 oz. every 15 minutes or 34 oz. per hour. Those who are dehydrated must drink 8 oz. every 10 minutes or 50 oz. per hour. Photo Brian Bastinelli

Every firefighter understands how important water is for fighting fires. It’s engrained in our minds from the time we enter the academy until the day we retire: “Put the wet stuff on the red stuff.” The part that’s well overlooked is how the “wet stuff” can help a firefighter perform in the heat throughout the day.

There have been many changes and advancements made to the industry over the years. Equipment has changed. Gear is lighter and more tolerable to the extreme conditions of firefighting. Fire trucks now have GPS navigation and computerized pumping systems. But with all of these advances in the industry, and as more and more research is conducted on the physical demands of firefighting, two facts remain unchanged: Firefighting is hard work, and it takes knowledgeable, competent and physically fit people to do the job. No amount of technological progress, tactical education or resources will change this.

In most stations, your shift starts with checking your gear, SCBA, med supplies and looking over the apparatus (usually with a cup of coffee in hand), but do you ask yourself, Am I physically ready? I imagine 100% of you nodded your head in affirmation to that seemingly rhetorical question.

Hydration & the Human Body
The human body is 66–70% water. Under normal circumstances, the human body loses about 35–90 oz. of water a day through body waste, sweat and breathing (Maughan, 2003). During normal athletic activity, the body can lose 8–16 oz. of water per hour. The extreme conditions of firefighting demand more than this. On average, working firefighters should anticipate losing 50–70 oz. of sweat in 30–45 minutes of fireground activity (Levine et al., 1990). For a 200-lb. firefighter, a 2% sweat-induced loss of body weight would require a post-exercise fluid intake of about 96 oz. or more, considering the individual was well hydrated before the call.

A Matter of Life & Death
Hydration is critical for optimal performance. Progressive dehydration from exercise (or fireground operations) impairs performance, mental capacity and perception of effort, and it can be life-threatening. With as little as a 2% shortage of body water, the ability to perform a high-intensity activity can be greatly impaired (Kleiner, 1999). The combination of the hot environment and the protective gear insulating the firefighter can produce dangerous conditions of hyperthermia and dehydration.

Urine Chart

Properly hydrated, well-conditioned firefighters are therefore much better able to contend with heat stress than their unconditioned and/or dehydrated counterparts. Put that into the context of your crew, which is only as strong as its weakest member. If you don’t hydrate yourself properly before arriving on the fireground, you’re not only putting your own life in danger, but the lives of your crewmembers as well, because your performance level could be greatly reduced (IAFF, 2006). For these reasons, dehydration must be addressed before the firefight begins.

Don’t Rely on Thirst
Unlike most athletes, the date, time and duration of the event are unknown factors for firefighters. At a moment’s notice, you may be called to engage in very strenuous activity in a hot environment. But once the alarm sounds, it’s too late to try to prehydrate for a fire.

Maintaining hydration throughout a shift is the only way to ward off dehydration later. Don’t rely on thirst. The brain gets the signal that the body is thirsty after 1% of body weight has been lost. So by the time an individual develops the thirst mechanism, they are significantly dehydrated (Sawka and Pandolf, 1990).

How to Hydrate
To stop dehydration before it starts prior to the alarm for a service call, you must limit the use of stimulants, such as caffeine, avoid carbonated beverages, maintain physical fitness and stay adequately hydrated throughout a shift. Drink plenty of water at regular intervals, and aim to replace fluids at the same rate that they’re lost. At minimum, consume 64 oz. of water a day (Casa et al., 2000). Increase that amount when exercising on duty and after you’ve completed your workout to avoid being dehydrated at the scene.

As mentioned, avoid drinks with carbonation, because they can cause a burning sensation in the throat, which can discourage drinking, cause gastric distention and discomfort, and they can slow the absorption of liquid into the small intestines (Williams, 2006).
Caffeine increases the blood flow to the kidneys while inhibiting the reabsorption of sodium and water. This has been proven to cause major changes in the kidneys known as a diuretic effect. For this reason, it’s recommended that firefighters use caffeine in moderation (Williams, 2006).

A high level of physical fitness helps combat dehydration before it starts. Fitness improves heat regulation, creates a greater blood volume and allows you to adjust more easily to vigorous exercise in a hot environment. Better-conditioned firefighters will carry more water and lose fewer electrolytes via sweat, thus enabling them to rehydrate quickly and completely.

Muscle mass is relatively high in water content (about 75%) compared to fat (generally 25% less). So the leaner the individual, the greater ability their body has to store water (IAFF, 2006).

Other Daily Recommendations
The World Health Organization recommends drinking 6 to 8 large glasses of water a day. But remember: This is only to maintain normal fluid balance and does not take into account the extra fluid loss caused by firefighting activity. Optimally, try to consume half your bodyweight in ounces of water a day. So if you were a 200-lb. individual, you would drink 100 ounces of water a day.

Drink before, during and after your shift. Get into the habit of taking on fluids throughout the day; try to have a water bottle on the truck and around the station. And always try to drink more fluids than you need. Smaller quantities at frequent intervals help optimize hydration.

Here are some other tips to help you stay hydrated throughout the day:

Prior to Fireground Operations (or exercise)

  • Drink at least 16 oz. of water an hour before operations/exercise to ensure your fluid levels are up to par. If you’re dehydrated prior to exercise, try to consume 32 oz. of water.

  • Drink 8–10 fl. oz. 10–15 minutes.

During Fireground Operations (or exercise)

  • Drink cool (40 degrees F), dilute fluids at a minimum rate of at least 8 oz. every 15 minutes or 34 oz. per hour. Those who are dehydrated must drink 8 oz. every 10 minutes or 50 oz. per hour.

  • Drink 8–10 oz. every 10–15 minutes.

  • If exercising longer than 90 minutes, drink 8–10 oz. of a sports drink (with no more than 8% carbohydrate) every 15–30 minutes.

After Fireground Operations (or exercise)

  • If the exercise (fireground activity) lasts for less than an hour, the body should have sufficient electrolyte and carbohydrate supplies to maintain optimal performance. Therefore, for short periods of exercise, water is just as good as sports drinks.

  • If exercise (fireground activity) lasts for more than an hour, use a sports drink with electrolytes and carbohydrates along with water to rehydrate the body.

  • Weigh yourself before and after exercise and replace fluid losses, drink 20–24 oz. of water for every pound lost.

  • If no water was consumed during exercise (fireground operations), aggressively rehydrate at a rate of 16 oz. of fluid every 15–20 minutes


The Importance of Staying Hydrated: August. (2011, Aug. 8). Firefighter Nation. Retrieved 16 November 2018, https://www.firefighternation.com/articles/2011/08/the-importance-of-staying-hydrated.html





"Sleep is the elixir of life. It is the most widely available and democratic powerful healthcare system I could ever possibly imagine."

Do You Need Sleep?

When it comes to our health one thing that is often underestimated is the amount of sleep we need. Sure, maybe you eat right and exercise but you may quickly notice your health deteriorating if you do not sleep please 8 hours a night.

A good indicator of if you’re sleeping enough? How do you feel when you wake up in the morning? If you never feel quite refreshed and instead suffer from a lack of energy throughout the day, chances are you need more sleep.

But of course sleep is important for much more than that, as it helps in the maintenance of body processes used every single day of our existence. Not sure of some of the other important functions of sleep? Read on to find out more

1. Promotes Longevity

Study after study has found that people who sleep less are much more likely to die at a younger age. This could be due to the increased likelihood of picking up infections as your immune system is suppressed, or a host of many other factors at Play. Sufficient sleep helps ensure the immune system function optimally all the time and also promotes healthy cellular turn over which in turn will promote your longevity.

2. Improves Your Memory

Many people don’t realize that while you’re sleeping your mind is actually working hard to string together the day’s events and making them into long term memory. This brain technique is known as consolidation, and is important to our retention over time. This is why after a hard day of school if you do not sleep enough you are unlikely to retain any of the knowledge you learn. Do yourself a favor; the harder your brain works during the day sleep more at night.

3. Sharpens Attentive Span

If you’ve ever had to go to work or school after a night not having enough sleep then you know how your performance is impaired. You find it difficult to stay attentive in class or anything that is said goes straight over your head. Worse yet. your short-term memory is also impaired as you’re likely to forget what you were supposed to be doing in the first place. Studies have found that children who get less than 8 hours of sleep per night are much more likely to develop symptoms of ADHD while adults May develop some form of anxiety disorder.

4. Helps Reduce Stress

Stress is a killer even though many people do not understand what this statement means. The fact is that stress keeps us alive, but as with everything else in life too much quickly becomes a bad thing. The stress hormone is what gets us out of bed in the morning as well as making it possible for us to deal with the everyday obstacles life may throw at us. However, chronically elevated levels of the stress hormone not only impair numerous body systems, but also cause of rapid deterioration of Health.

Luckily sleep is one of the best natural ways to reduce the impact of stress due partially to Natural elevations of growth hormone and melatonin that occur as we sleep. Insomnia or chronic sleep deprivation only worsens the impact of stress on our bodies, but luckily after a few nights of consecutive good sleep is normally enough to help reset the cortisol balance.

5. Reduces Depression Risk

While there may be genetic differences that cause an individual to have a higher depression risk, it can still happen to anyone, especially when you do not get enough sleep. This is because insufficient sleep can upset the delicate balance of neurochemicals in the brain, among them being dopamine and serotonin, two very important chemicals involved in the maintenance of mood.

Prescription medication may artificially prevent the breakdown of Serotonin, but they only work for a short-term and usually have a lot of side effects. Getting adequate sleep can actually prevent this in the first place, as sleep helps in the synthesis of the neurotransmitter serotonin and coupled with the suppression of cortisol, will help ensure your mood is balanced

6. Assists In Weight Maintenance

Lack of sufficient sleep can result in a host of complications, one of them being weight gain. But why is this so? You can thank the hormone cortisol for this. Cortisol promotes fluid retention as well as inhibited fat burning, making the perfect cocktail for weight gain. Luckily, sleep can help to offset this. During sleep, levels of growth hormone spike; growth hormone being a very potent lipolytic hormone. Growth hormone promotes the usage of fat for fuel oil and prevents new storage of fat. When it comes to weight loss, sleep is your friend

7. Promotes Muscle Building

Contrary to what most people believe, muscle growth doesn’t happen in the gym, but rather while you sleep. While the gym does provide the stimulus necessary for muscle growth, this actual rebuilding process happens as you sleep, and requires changes to protein synthesis at the genetic level. DNA signals for increased muscle protein synthesis and slows down the rate of muscle loss to catabolism. In like manner you brain also signals to increase testosterone and growth hormone production to facilitate the growth of muscle cells. If you work out hard and eat right and yet find yourself not making the muscle gains you would like, it’s time to take a hard look at your sleep pattern and decide if you are getting enough.

8. Promotes Heart Health

Research has consistently shown that people that sleep the recommended minimum of 8 hours per night are much less likely to experience heart attacks or strokes. Sleep helps ensure that blood pressure is kept in the normal range, and also helps to reduce the amount of work the heart has to do to pump blood. The stress hormone cortisol has an adverse effect on the heart, increasing blood pressure causing blood vessels to constrict. Sleep prevents these adverse changes and keeps her heart healthy for years to come.

9. Reduces Inflammation

Sleep is actually one of the strongest anti-inflammatory tools we have at our disposal. Many diseases and body disorders are associated by an increase in inflammatory responses, such as diabetes, heart disease arthritis and premature aging. Research has shown that sleep helps to reduce levels of inflammatory proteins in blood, specifically one by the name of C-reactive protein. People that sleep less than 6 hours per night have elevated levels of this protein and higher risk of developing inflammatory conditions, and when coupled with elevated levels of the hormone cortisol, the effects can be catastrophic

10. Keeps You Younger

One of the first visible signs of insufficient sleep is accelerated aging, especially on the skin. This is manifested by poor looking skin and development of wrinkles and fine lines on the face, in addition to possibly premature greying of the hair. Sleep helps ensure healthy turnover of cells and can prevent premature hair greying as well.

11. Improves Sex Drive

The hormone responsible for dictating your sex drive, testosterone, is produced during sleep and it’s higher in people that sleep 8 hours routinely. If you think your libido is lower than it should be, the first thing you can do is analyze your sleep patterns; then if you discover you’re getting less than 8 hours try to improve that and see if it works. Only if this fails should you consider using prescription medication.


Hopefully you now see the importance of getting quality sleep, as its benefits are numerous and trickle-down to various aspects of our health. Don’t ever regard it as being a waste of time as sleep is what ensures your survival and longevity

Article Link: https://www.naturalfoodseries.com/11-benefits-sleep/