Staying Hydrated: Vital for forest worker health, especially on the wildfire lines!

Safety Alert Type: 
British Columbia
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
Company Name: 
BC Forest Safety Council
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

When the topic of dehydration is raised, don’t think it only happens on the fireline. All forestry workers including those working in logging, silviculture and other field positions can be affected by dehydration.

To many, thirst is the first indication that they need something to drink. In reality, by the time you are thirsty it is too late and you could already be 2% dehydrated. At 4%, you are unable to do your job efficiently, at 7% you likely will be throwing up. At 10% you are near death.

Keep this in mind – the best way to determine if you are drinking enough is to:

  • Check your thirst – if you have dry mouth or are thirsty, you most likely have not been drinking enough fluids
  • Check your urine – if your urine has a strong smell and is a dark yellow colour, you may not be getting enough fluids. Your urine should be clear in colour or light yellow and you should frequently urinate throughout the day
  • Observe your state of mind – if you are tired, light-headed, have many headaches, or are unable to focus, you could be dehydrated.

The constant intake of fluids is essential. Fluids help to:

  • lower your risk of dehydration and heat stroke
  • control your body temperature
  • keep a normal blood pressure
  • protect and cushion your joints and organs
  • move nutrients and waste through the body

It is hard to quantify the amount of fluids an individual is required to drink on a daily basis. This is because there are many factors involved including the level and type of physical activity, age, gender and the environment the person is working in.

Learnings and Suggestions: 

Tips to meet your fluid needs

  • Be aware of your thirst and drink fluids often throughout the day
  • Choose water when you are thirsty. Avoid soft drinks
  • Keep water nearby when you are at work, at school, exercising or out and about
  • Enjoy other fluids to help you meet your fluid intake such as milk, fortified soy beverages, vegetable or fruit juices and soups
  • Choose decaffeinated drinks more often to keep you well hydrated. Drinks with caffeine should be limited to 3 cups per day
  • Take sips of water while eating meals and snacks
  • Keep a container full of ice water with lemon, lime or other flavours, in your fridge at home or at work
  • When going to the field, ensure that crews and individuals have plenty of water
  • Remember to drink additional water in hot weather and when you are very active.

Everyone must be diligent in monitoring themselves and their co-workers for proper hydration habits.

For more information on this submitted alert: 

Gerard Messier at messier@bcforestsafe.org



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