Desert Survival Guide- Rationing Water Loss
Ration your water loss rather than your water! In hot arid environments it is important to stay hydrated. Reduced hydration levels make you more susceptible to heat related illness and in addition it can impair both physical and metal acumen making you more likely to make a mistake that could compound your situation.
The old advice to ration water supplies is very out of date and all current thinking advocates, that whilst not to waste water, it is better to keep your hydration levels at their optimum. There are a number of documented incidents where people have been found
dead from dehydration whilst still having water in the water bottles! It is far better to make every attempt to reduce the amount of water that is being lost by the body. Key to this is to seek shade and rest during the heat of the day. This simple decision can halve your water requirements.
Keep as much as your skin area cover as possible, this not only increases the humidity near the skin reducing the evaporation rate of your sweat, it also protects you from the drying effects of the wind, radiation from the sun and reflected heat off the ground, and conduction from contact with warm surfaces.
Keep your mouth closed. A considerable amount of moisture is lost as water vapour in your breath, by breathing just through your nose you can dramatically reduce this. An old trick is to suck on a smooth round pebble. This forces you to keep your mouth closed, and it also stimulates saliva production which will stop your mouth feeling dry and parched. Smoking will
also increase the amount of water loss.
Finally, minimize the amount of water you pass out in your urine by avoiding anything with a diuretic affect such as tea, coffee and alcoholic drinks. And although you need to replace any salts lost by sweating, don’t over-do it as you will lose vital water to excrete the excess, which is why you should never drink urine and seawater. If you feel that you have to use your urine, do what the San Bushman do, and urinate into a scrape in the ground in some shade and use that as a resting site………the increased humidity will slow down the evaporation of your own sweat!
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