Hydration: How Many Water Breaks Are Enough?
There are lots of articles written by the experts on this topic, and many times their answer is “It depends…” It certainly can depend on the heat and humidity. Obvious things like shade or a little breeze can help our bodies regulate our cooling systems. Even the foods we eat can make difference on whether we need six glasses of water a day or 10. But how much fluid is enough to keep people hydrated?
One simple way people can check if they are well hydrated is to look in the toilet after going to the bathroom. Urine should be light yellow or clear. Unless someone is taking megavitamins or has kidney issues, a darker yellow tells us we are too dry. First thing in the morning there may be a darker yellow color since there has been nothing to drink for 6-8 hours. Later on as people rehydrate, the color will be clear.
On hot, humid days is it worth it to allow more water breaks? If someone is dehydrated, they slow down which is a loss in productivity. If a few extra water breaks on those days keep everyone working efficiently, the time spent on allowing extra water breaks will be worth the time investment.
Keep in mind that dehydration isn’t an issue for only the hot, humid months. It’s easy to get dehydrated in Iowa in the winter when we are spending all day inside. As furnaces kick out dry air, we are breathing out moisture.
A few reminders to keep employees hydrated:
- All fluids count toward hydration.
- Whenever you walk by a water fountain, take a drink.
- Keep a water bottle at your work station. If you aren’t empty at the end of the day, you probably aren’t drinking as much as you need.
- If you feel thirsty, your body is already behind, get a drink and try to stay better hydrated.