When a person does not drink enough water or loses large amounts of fluids because of diarrhea, vomiting, sweating, or strenuous exercise, dehydration can occur. When the body becomes dehydrated, it reabsorbs fluid from the blood and other body tissues. If a person is severely dehydrated, there is no longer enough fluid in the body to get blood to the vital organs and the person may begin to go into shock. Severe dehydration and shock are life threatening. Symptoms that require emergency care (even if only one of them is present) include:
- Altered behavior, such as severe anxiety, confusion, or not being able to stay awake.
- Faintness that is not relieved by lying down, or lightheadedness that continues after standing for 2 minutes.
- Weak, rapid pulse.Cold, clammy skin or hot, dry skin.
- Little or no urination.
- Loss of consciousness.
To prevent dehydration among its staff and volunteers on a construction/renovation project, nonprofits should advise volunteers to:
- Drink 8 to 10 glasses of water each day. Rehydration drinks (Lytren or Rehydrate) and sports drinks (Gatorade or Powerade) are also good rehydration choices.
- Make water, rehydration or sports drinks readily available to staff and volunteers, and encourage them to drink at least every 15 to 20 minutes.
- Do not consume caffeinated drinks, such as coffee and colas. They increase urine output and make you dehydrate faster.
- Do not consume alcoholic drinks. They only increase dehydration and make it difficult to make good decisions.
- Stop working outdoors at the first sign of dizziness, lightheadedness, or fatigue.
- Wear one layer of lightweight, light-colored clothing when you are working or exercising outdoors. Replace sweat-saturated clothing with dry clothing as soon as you can.