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    From your GCSAA Field Staff, Kevin Doyle:


It seems like every year I am asked by a member to consider writing about a health-related item specific to our outdoor profession.  Recently one member addressed an issue he had at his facility and inquired if I would help spread the word about proper hydration.  Keeping hydrated is an extremely important health concern, and despite my personal efforts to encourage my athlete/golf course employee daughter to drink plenty of fluids, I am no expert.  So here are some tips for you and the staff from those in the know.  Some tips to stay hydrated, and equally important (as the above member pointed out) concerns to look for regarding dehydration.

Nebraska Medicine: University Health Center provide some excellent advice to remain in top form when it comes to remaining hydrated.

How much water should a person drink in a day? About 20% of our daily fluid intake comes from the food we eat and the rest from the liquids we drink.  The amount of water intake you need depends on the sex you were assigned at birth. According to the U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, men should drink 3.7 liters (about 16 cups) and women 2.7 liters (about 11 cups) of fluid per day. You need to drink even more water if you exercise, sweat or have an illness.

Their ten tips look like this:

  1. Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning. This gets your metabolism running and gives you an energy boost. Avoid drinking water right before bed if you struggle with nocturnal urination or heartburn.
  2. Invest in a fun or fancy water bottle. A good water bottle can serve as a visual reminder to drink more water throughout the day. Certain bottles have marked measurements for tracking intake or have words of encouragement printed on the side as water levels go down.
  3. Use alarms or notifications to your advantage. Set alarms or notifications on your smart devices as reminders throughout the day. For a mental boost, set your Alexa or Google device to remind you along with verbal, positive encouragements.
  4. Focus on your body's signals. Be mindful of whether your body is thirsty or hungry. Sometimes we overeat because we mistake thirst for hunger.
  5. Drink a glass of water before each meal. It will help you stay hydrated, help your body digest food better and help you feel full faster.
  6. Add calorie-free flavoring. Try fruit or vegetable infusions in your water to make it more appealing. Prepare a jug in the refrigerator to infuse overnight to make filling your water bottle in the morning easier. Pick up a water bottle that has a built-in infusion basket for flavor on the go.
  7. Check the color of your urine. Some people check the color of their urine throughout the day to ensure it is clear or light-colored. Dark yellow urine may be a sign of dehydration for some.
  8. Swap high sugar drinks for sparkling water or seltzer. Not only will you cut back on unnecessary sugar, but you'll be adding to your water intake.
  9. Set a daily goal. A simple daily goal can help you stay motivated and work towards maintaining a healthy habit.
  10. Make it a challenge. Ask your friends to join you in a healthy competition to see who meets their daily goals regularly.

Many of these tips set up well for success if the team will buy in.  While the steps seem simple enough, overlooking adequate hydration during the typical Northeast summer wouldn’t take long to lead to serious issues.  What might they look like? 

Folks at the Mayo Clinic remind us when it's hot and humid, your risk of dehydration and heat illness increases. That's because when the air is humid, sweat can't evaporate and cool you as quickly as it normally does, and this can lead to an increased body temperature and the need for more fluids.

Thirst isn't always a reliable early indicator of the body's need for water. Many people, particularly older adults, don't feel thirsty until they're already dehydrated. That's why it's important to increase water intake during hot weather or when you're ill.  Working outside as we in the golf industry do, it is important to understand the heightened risk.

The signs and symptoms of dehydration also may differ by age, for adults:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Less frequent urination
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion

Dehydration can lead to serious complications, including:

  • Heat injury. If you don't drink enough fluids when you're exercising vigorously and perspiring heavily, you may end up with a heat injury, ranging in severity from mild heat cramps to heat exhaustion or potentially life-threatening heatstroke.
  • Urinary and kidney problems. Prolonged or repeated bouts of dehydration can cause urinary tract infections, kidney stones and even kidney failure.
  • Seizures. Electrolytes — such as potassium and sodium — help carry electrical signals from cell to cell. If your electrolytes are out of balance, the normal electrical messages can become mixed up, which can lead to involuntary muscle contractions and sometimes to a loss of consciousness.
  • Low blood volume shock (hypovolemic shock). This is one of the most serious, and sometimes life-threatening, complications of dehydration. It occurs when low blood volume causes a drop in blood pressure and a drop in the amount of oxygen in your body.

Remaining safe during the stressful summer months is extremely important to our entire industry.  While our grounds team is typically of first and foremost concern, those playing our sport can easily fall victim to the same issues as our golf maintenance staff can.   Please consider communicating the symptoms to your staff as their vigilance can easily pay dividends for others.  Understanding how to save turf from heat stress is important, knowing how to save a person from heat stress can be life changing

To read the full articles, please see the links below:

https://health.unl.edu/10-tips-staying-hydrated-summer%C2%A0

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/symptoms-causes/syc-20354086



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