Hydration 101 for Firefighters

Hydration Protocol 


1. Remove all sugar laden sport drinks.

Any sports drink from the convenience store or supermarket, get rid of it. It’s not designed for professional hydration. Not convinced? In 2008, the Journal of Occupational Medicine & Toxicology put out the results of their study “Sweat rate and sodium loss during work in the heat”. What they found was very interesting – people lose a lot more sodium under heat stress than they think, sometimes up to 6 grams of pure sodium per day (that’s 15g of sodium chloride). Also – They found that soft drinks & commercial sport drinks have too much sugar and calories, with too little salt to be effective hydration tools. Their final recommendation is: “Sports drinks are contra-indicated for people working in hot environments due to the very high energy content. An ideal fluid replacement beverage for industrial use should have significant sodium content with minimum carbohydrate.” The full article is available for you here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2267797/

2. Maintain bottled water supply in all stations, engines, and trucks. 

A readily available supply of clean, cool water will encourage consumption before, during, and after heat stress incidents. Make it very accessible. When sports drinks and sugary options are removed, the temptation to consume them in place of water is also removed. Bottled water also does not expire, saving you money. Be sure to keep bottled water out of the sun to avoid the leaching of plastics into the water. 

3. Add a supply of Fluid Tactical packets adjacent to all bottled water supplies. 

With a heat index of 80 degrees or higher, begin consuming 1 packet, per person, per day, as a preventative tool against dehydration. The flavor will entice firefighters to consume more water and the mineral content will top off electrolytes prior to any incident. For a chart of Heat Index Table of values, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat_index#Table_of_values

4. Rehydrate Rehydrate Rehydrate

For each hour of heat stress in a heat index of 90 degrees or greater, consume an additional packet of Fluid Tactical per hour minimum, plus adequate water, until total body weight and body water are restored to resting levels. Urine color should match colors 1-3 on a standardized urine chart (see below). All firefighters should know their resting body weight in a hydrated status.