Hydrating in the Heat Part 2: What Does Urine Color Have to Do with Hydration?

Hydrating in the Heat Part 2: What Does Urine Color Have to Do with Hydration?

If employees want to know if they're adequately hydrated, there's a quick and easy solution they may be able to turn to.

OH&S’ first part of this series went over the volume of water employees working in heat should drink and how often they should drink. But how can employees tell if they’re sufficiently hydrated or if they need to consume more water?

A simple solution: Look at the color of your urine. Although there are many ways to check your hydration status, a trip to the restroom can provide a quick answer.

Urine Color and Meaning

Let’s take a look at what the color of your urine means in terms of hydration, according to the New South Wales Ministry of Health (NSW Health) and New Mexico Tech (NMT).

Pale or light yellow. Urine that is pale or light yellow indicates that you’re well hydrated. However, continue to drink water regularly to maintain this level of hydration. If you notice completely clear urine, you may be overhydrated, per the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

Slightly darker yellow. When urine output is a little darker than a pale or light yellow, per NSW Health, you’re “mildly hydrated,” so drinking eight ounces of water once you learn this is suggested.

“Amber or honey” yellow. Starting to notice that your urine is getting darker? That might be a sign to drink up. According to the NMT, if your urine resembles the color of “amber or honey,” you should consume about 16 ounces “if you’re outside and/or sweating.”

Very dark yellow. If your urine is extremely dark or is similar to the color of—as stated by NMT—“syrup or brown ale,” you may be seriously dehydrated. In this case, you need to consume water right away. Some sources, like NSW Health, recommend “a large bottle of water,” but others do not specify an exact amount.

Employers, to encourage employees to check their urine color, consider hanging a urine color chart in rest areas or individual bathroom stalls.

Stay tuned for part three of “Hydrating in the Heat.”

This article is meant solely for educational purposes and not to provide medical advice. Please seek medical attention or advice from a professional if you are concerned about your health or have questions about hydration.

About the Author

Alex Saurman is a former Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety,who has since joined OH&S’s client services team. She continues to work closely with OH&S’s editorial team and contributes to the magazine.

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