Water 101: Truly the Firefighter's Best Friend

There are a number of factors that need to be considered when trying to determine the proper fluid intake, including activity levels, climate and personal factors.

Did you know that water does more than put out fires?

A firefighter needs water not only for putting out fires, but to fight dehydration and fatigue when they are on the job. Dehydration is a major concern for members of the fire service or anyone who exercises and works out especially.

Firefighters across the nation have been trained to remain hydrated between alarms while performing other duties. This only makes sense because they never know when they are going to get called to the line of duty.

A fire department can have all the latest gadgets and gizmos, with all the bells and whistles, and still be nothing without healthy and "Fire Fit" firefighters. So for Water 101, this is a pretty big subject to swallow.

Every system in the body depends on water. We can go without food for almost two months, but without water only a few days. Most people have no idea how much water they drink or should drink. Then there are those that say they do but still come up low on the optimal hydration level percent. So just how much water should a firefighter drink each day?

How Much Water Do You Need?
Conventional wisdom has held for years that you should drink eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day. But nobody really knows where this even came about from. Some say the number was derived from fluid intake measurements taken decades ago among hospital patients on IV; others say it's less a measure of what people need than a convenient reference point, especially for those who are prone to dehydration, such as elderly people. However there is no straightforward answer as to how much water or fluid intake is necessary for the human body on a daily basis.

There are a number of factors that need to be considered when trying to determine the proper fluid intake. The level of activity of the individual is a very important factor. The rate at which the body losses fluid by way of perspiration, urination and respiration, which is different for each individual (about 2.5 liters on an average), would make a difference in the intake level of the individual. The overall health of the person would play into this equation and the climate and region in which the person lives also plays an important factor.

Several approaches attempt to approximate water needs for the average person.

Replacement approach: The average urine output for adults is about 1.5 liters (6.3 cups) a day. You will lose close to an additional liter of water through breathing, sweating and bowel movements. You have to remember that food usually accounts for as much as 20 to 25 percent of your total fluid intake, so if you consume two liters of water and beverages a day (a little more than eight cups) along with your normal diet, you should replace the lost fluids.

Health experts and dietitians recommendation: They believe daily intake of water should be about three liters (13 cups) for men and for women around 2.5 liters (about nine cups).

Eight, 8 ounce glass rule: There isn't scientific evidence to support this method, but many people use this as a basic rule for a guideline as to how much water and fluids they should drink daily.

Sports medicine rule: The latest new conventional wisdom from this field is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water. That is if you weigh 120 pounds, you should drink 60 ounces of water everyday, or seven and a half cups. If you weight 180 pounds, you should drink 90 ounces of water daily, or eleven cups and another few sips.

.55 method: You are to drink .55 multiplied by your body weight in ounces of water per day. If you limit your water intake, the body will retain water and make you feel like the "king or queen of bloat" or better yet, a marshmallow. It only takes the body to be dehydrated by two percent for this to take place.

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