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How to Prevent Dehydration in the Wilderness

Learn how to prevent dehydration in the wilderness from NYC Outward Bound instructor Marko Yurachek in this survival skills video from Howcast.


Water is one of the big five most important things that you're going to need to have if you're out in a wilderness situation. Lack of water, dehydration, or hypernatremia as it's being referred to now is very, very problematic and one of the things that you need to ensure so that you function properly and your body performs at its peak level is water, and a good water source.

How do you recognize if you're not getting enough water? Symptoms of dehydration are, first, you're thirsty. If you're thirsty you're probably dehydrated. In a hot environment you get dehydrated a lot faster. However, people don't recognize that in a cool environment, you also will get dehydrated. In the rain you'll get dehydrated.

You lose moisture through sweating. You lose moisture through respiration, and you lose moisture through your bodily processes. So another way to recognize if you're dehydrated is if you're not urinated. So you're thirsty. You haven't peed all day. Those are really, really big warning signs.

Following those things, you get different physiological changes. The first one, and usually the most noticeable is headache. Headache is often accompanied by irritability, grumpiness. Then you lose your physical coordination. You may become nauseous and your body slowly starts to shut down.

So, recognizing that you are thirsty, that you're not going to the bathroom are the first signs that you're getting dehydrated. When you start to get a headache, you start to get irritable, and you start to make bad decisions, you're really going downhill fast, you need to get some fluid in you. So the prevention for dehydration is to make sure you're drinking regularly and constantly throughout the day.

One of the things that people oftentimes have happen to them when they're just in a camping environment is they don't want to go to the bathroom outside. That's something that's uncomfortable for them, and so because of that they're not drinking. That's a really bad idea. You want to keep drinking and keep drinking and keep peeing. The more you're urinating the better hydrated you are.

One of the other things that hydration does is it helps you process your food, helps you digest your nutrients, and helps you regulate your body temperature. So a well-hydrated body is a really well-working system where you're thermo-regulating, you're digesting your food, you're processing your nutrients, and everything is working great. Once you stop hydrating, all that starts to fall apart. So drinking water is really, really important.

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