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Avoiding Winter Dehydration

April 16, 2019 3 min read


Our bodies consist of about 60-70% water. Water is essential for many body functions. It helps dissolve the minerals and nutrients that you consume and transports waste out of your body. When you are dehydrated, your blood is thicker resulting in higher blood pressure. Your body restricts airways to minimize the loss of water. This can make breathing more difficult especially for those with allergies or asthma. Kidneys filter the fluids in your body, but when you are dehydrated, that filtration system doesn’t function properly and waste and excess fluids can actually build up in your body.

So, what is the simple solution to maintaining a healthy body? Drink water of course. But how does that change during an emergency? When you think dehydration, you probably think heat. But you can get dehydrated during the winter as well. If there comes a time you find yourself stranded on the side of the road in the winter, or you need to bunker down during a winter storm, water will still be a necessity for survival. You still need to watch for and treat for dehydration. During winter, it is much harder to recognize the signs of dehydration. Sweat evaporates more quickly in cool air, so you may not even notice.

The first sign people usually recognize is feeling thirsty, but having dry lips and skin, nose bleeds, and even mild headaches are also signs of dehydration. Pretty much sounds like winter to me. So, where can you get the water your body needs? Hopefully you have already stored some water. The concern then comes to: is your water frozen? Larger containers such as barrels take much longer to freeze. You can insulate them with mylar blankets, bales of hay, foam insulation, etc. to help prevent them from freezing. If they do freeze, roll them to a warm area to unthaw. If you have water in your car (and you should!), keep them in the cab, instead of the trunk. You can insulate them the same way you do your water barrels or even put them in a cooler. Since the water containers you keep in your vehicle are much smaller than a barrel, they are more likely to freeze. To unthaw the water, hold it by a heating vent or wrap it in hand warmers. Avoid using your body heat to warm it up. It’s not worth the heat you’ll lose! You can also look to running water sources such as streams and rivers. The more quickly the water is moving, the less likely it is to freeze. Treat your water before consumption by using a filter or purification method to ensure your water is safe to drink.

In an emergency, if you have used up your stored water and are unable to find a running water source, snow and ice can be used as well. It is important to remember that it needs to be melted and that usually takes quite a bit of fuel and energy. By using a small stove, you can place a pot with a small amount of snow in it and melt. Add a lit to your pot to help conserve your fuel.Also, remember to add small amounts of snow at a time. If you fill the pot completely with snow, it can act as an insulator and burn out the bottom of your pan. Sucking on ice and snow should be used as a last resort. It will lower your core temperature and can lead to hypothermia. The best option is always to prepared and to prevent dehydration. Store water in various locations including your home and car, but there are other options for water as well. Practice methods of preparedness now to help keep you and your family safe.