By 1st Sgt. Christopher Bushway
Special to GUIDON
Dehydration is a leading cause of injury for Soldiers. To keep them in the fight, it’s essential they remain properly hydrated — even during the winter.
The average adult loses 1.5 to 2 liters of water each day. Being in a cold-weather climate can add to this water loss through the increased excretion by the kidneys, perspiration and evaporation from the lungs (the breath you see on a cold day).
To make matters worse, people may be less interested in drinking water during cold weather and, as a result, become dehydrated. This can lead to inadequate blood flow to the extremities, which can contribute to a Soldier developing a cold injury such as frostbite or trench foot.
According to the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Soldiers should take the following steps to maintain hydration during cold-weather operations:
— Soldiers must drink water even when they are not thirsty. Leaders should establish a program of regularly scheduled hydration.
— Soldiers should drink at least two to six canteens of water each day.
— Cold suppresses thirst, so schedule drinking at regular intervals.
— Eating snow or ice for moisture is inefficient, can irritate the lining of the mouth and may lower body temperature. It is better to melt snow or ice and purify it before consuming.
— Avoid consuming excess salt (more than the amount normally provided in military rations).
(Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center website. Bushway is with the Vermont Army National Guard.)