Hydrating in the Heat Part 1: How Much Water Should Employees Drink?

Hydrating in the Heat Part 1: How Much Water Should Employees Drink?

Knowing the amount of water to consume in hot temperatures is vital, but employees should understand when to drink water too.

With summer and warm temperatures just around the corner, many employees will soon find themselves working in the heat. When the sun comes out, everyone needs to take extra precautions to ensure heat-related injuries, illnesses and fatalities are avoided.

One component of staying safe in the heat is something many people do daily and might not think about: staying hydrated.

The importance of hydration cannot be overstated. Per the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, high temperatures and physical exertion can lead to a greater chance of dehydration. Why is this a concern? Besides the fact that water keeps our bodies functioning and helps us maintain a healthy body temperature, dehydration can lead to heat injury and illness, seizures, weakness, organ damage and, in severe cases, death.

How to Stay Hydrated

Hydration shouldn’t start the moment you clock in—it should begin well before. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), not only do workers want to ensure that they’re hydrated prior to starting work, but they also need to drink water before the feeling of thirst sets in. When this happens, the body may already be dehydrated.

The amount of water people should drink on a daily basis differs for everyone. Activity level, health concerns, medication and temperature all play a role in how much a person should consume. However, when it comes to staying hydrated while working in the heat, the answer is a little clearer.

Every 15 to 20 minutes, employees in hot temperatures should drink eight ounces of water, according to NIOSH. Waiting longer between drinking—even if higher quantities are consumed—is not recommended as “drinking at shorter intervals is more effective,” per the agency.

Although water is vital, drinking too much can have negative consequences. When working in high temperatures, NIOSH and OSHA say employees should avoid consuming more than 48 ounces every hour or 48 cups in 24 hours.

When work is done for the day, don’t clock out on staying hydrated. During a shift, especially in extreme temperatures, employees can sweat, causing water and salts, or electrolytes, to leave the body. These need to be replenished.

Read part two here, and stay tuned for part three of “Hydrating in the Heat.”

About the Author

Alex Saurman is the Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety.

Product Showcase

  • Infrared (IR) electrical scans

    Infrared (IR) electrical scans

    Uncover electrical system component issues, prevent worker downtime and reduce employee injuries. Infrared (IR) electrical scans from e-Hazard quickly find and help solve problem areas in your electrical systems. IR electrical scans are needed because electrical system components put out excess heat caused by increased resistance when something is not working properly. IR electrical testing helps determine wiring errors, overloaded systems, loose connections, damaged switchgears, or components that are likely to fail. 3

  • InteliSwab® COVID-19 Rapid Test

    InteliSwab® COVID-19 Rapid Test

    The InteliSwab® COVID-19 Rapid Test from OraSure is a remarkably simple, and easy to use, at-home COVID-19 rapid antigen test. InteliSwab puts the power of rapid results right in your hands. Anytime, anywhere, just swab, swirl and see results in minutes. InteliSwab has been tested against variants of concern and successfully detects Omicron subvariants. By testing frequently in the workplace, you can help prevent disruption and strengthen occupational health. Try InteliSwab today and get your free sample kit here: info.inteliswab.com/2023-paidmedia-ohs-productshowcase-inteliswab-june 3

  • Ventis Pro5

    Ventis Pro5

    The Ventis Pro5 from Industrial Scientific is the most flexible connected gas monitor on the market, giving you the power to protect workers from up to five gases, manage worker safety from remote locations, and simplify team communication to take the guesswork out of gas detection. It automatically shares real-time gas readings, man-down, and panic alarms between peers so the entire team knows who is in danger and why. Visit ASSP Safety booth #1115 or www.indsci.com/ventis-pro 3