It has been an extremely dry spring in our area along with hot temperatures, which appears to be continuing into the summer season. This is great news for beach seekers and water park enthusiasts, but these types of conditions prevent challenges for our trees as well as for anyone who works outside. Hydration is critical to peak performance whether you are talking plants, animals, or humans. Dehydration occurs when the body’s output of water is greater than the body’s intake. Excessive heat, sweating and insufficient water intake can lead to dehydration.
In this blog, we will focus on dehydration and its impacts on humans, specifically professionals in the arboriculture industry. As we have discussed in prior blogs, there are many different types of arborists or professionals in the industry. The working conditions across the different types of arborists will vary and in this blog, we will focus on field arborists, we refer to them in our business as production arborists. They are the ones who are out in the elements every day, whether hot or cold temperatures. Hydration is the key to safety and peak performance. There are four keys to pay attention to when preventing dehydration.
- Increase your overall water consumption and be sure to drink consistently throughout the day. Even when you are not thirsty.
- Reduce the amount of caffeine consumed. To process caffeine, our bodies need water which results in caffeine being a dehydrator.
- Reduce alcohol consumption prior to heavy exercise or work. This includes the evening before work the following day.
- Eat foods with essential vitamins and nutrients such as nuts, sports bars, and other high-energy materials. Avoid high sugar content materials.
If a production arborist starts to feel thirsty, they are already experiencing initial signs of becoming dehydrated. If they are unable to drink water at this point, the next best thing to do is get to a cool, shaded area to conserve energy and allow your body to cool down. Drink water as soon as possible, further water loss can start initiating symptoms of fatigue, muscle cramps, fever-like symptoms, and potential breathing issues.
Two significant conditions that can present themselves if severe dehydration occurs are heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Both can lead to life-threatening situations. Consistent hydration along with good daily diet practices can prevent either of these conditions.
Symptoms – Weakness, Fatigue, Blurry Vision and Dizziness
Signs – High Pulse Rate, Extreme Sweating, Pale Face, and Insecure Walking
Symptoms – Chills, Restlessness, Irritability, and Shivering
Signs – Red Face, Disorientation, Erratic Behavior, and Collapse
For anyone working outside or simply enjoying the sunshine and hot weather, be certain to always carry plenty of water with you, as well as drinking water consistently throughout the day. Drink water with all of your meals and be certain to take breaks throughout the day to avoid overheating. Staying safe with simple hydration practices as described above will allow for higher performance and enjoyment of the summer weather. As an arborist, it is great for our office to be outside, but it comes with responsibilities to maintain our health and safety.
Learn more about hydration for our trees and what you can do to help with that during periods of drought. Check out a blog from our ISA Board Certified Master Arborist, Anne Dalrymple, Properly Watering Your Trees.