Summer is approaching on great big cat’s feet. We will be attending some events that require being out in the heat. This means an increased possibility of heat injuries/heat stroke. Avoiding heat stroke/heat injury is not difficult, but requires absolute and rigid adherence to certain rules or dos & don'ts. The latest medical research into heat injuries says follow these simple rules.
1. BE IN SHAPE! Reenacting involves running around, carrying loads etc. If you are out of shape or have medical problems, limit your activity to what you know you can do if this means being a camp guard half of the weekend so be it.
2. ACCLIMATIZE: If you are going to be out a lot in the heat reenacting, try and spend plenty of time at home in the heat...go for walks in the heat of the day etc. start slowly to help build resistance. If going to a much hotter area, try to get there a few days early and get used to it BEFORE you run around in heavy marching order.
3. HYDRATE: WATER! WATER! WATER! Water is the best fluid to have. Sports drinks like Gatorade contain carbohydrates that act as osmotic diuretics, and unless you are running a marathon or haven't eaten for 2-3 days you don't need the calories. Likewise the electrolytes are not needed, especially with the salty diet we eat while reenacting. Caffeine drinks, like coffee and tea are diuretics; but, the ratio of fluid in to fluid out is so small that it is not a major difference, but still the more of them you drink, the more water you should drink to make up the difference. Alcohol is also a diuretic, and it interferes with thermo-regulation, be moderate and don't drink & exercise in the heat. The absolute worst stuff is soda. A soda contains tons of caffeine and sugar, which is a double diuretic whammy. When you go to the skinners row and drink a couple of sodas and you think you are "hydrated", you are wrong and you just made things worse.
4. WATER BELONGS IN YOU, NOT YOUR CANTEEN: There are a fair number of recorded instances of men dying with water in their canteens they were "saving". It used to be a hallmark of the military to spend all day with only one canteen. All they were doing is setting them up for the big sleep. Drink up early and often, if you get empty and no water is in sight take a hit and quit. Hypothermic brain damage is far worse than cardiac arrest. Empty your canteens into yourself COMPLETELY before battle, at the last water point and fill up AGAIN.
5. IF YOU ARE THIRSTY YOU ARE ALREADY AT LEAST 15% DEHYDRATED: This is a true fact, so drink before you are thirsty and if you are 'thirsty' then drink to "overdo".
6. IF YOU ARE NOT URINATING ONCE EVERY 2 HRS OR SO, YOU ARE DEHYDRATED: Check out the color of your urine flow. If it is dark yellow/orange it is highly concentrated and you're in trouble. Urine in this situation should be clear or slightly yellow.
7. IF YOU DON'T FEEL WELL, YOU'RE SICK: Remember healthy hardened 20 year old soldiers DIED from heat illness/dehydration during the CW. Read about the march in the oppressive heat from VA to PA by the Army of the Potomac before Gettysburg. Men were dropping dead in their tracks during the march. The minute you start to feel sick STOP!!!Sit down and find water to re-hydrate.
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