The Simple 20-Minute Rule that Could Save Your Life
(AscendHealthy.com) – Summertime heat can be very dangerous. A fun day playing in the sun can quickly turn into heat stroke if we’re not careful. But there’s something we all can do to keep ourselves safe: Follow the 20-minute rule. Let’s take a closer look at this guideline for staying hydrated and reducing the risk of heat-related illnesses.
The 20-Minute Rule
The 20-minute rule is all about staying hydrated when you’re out in the heat. Adults and kids must drink enough water when it’s hot, especially during physical exertion. To avoid heat-related illnesses like heat stroke, drink 1 cup (8 ounces) of water every 15-20 minutes.
What Is Heat Stroke?
There are a few different types of heat-related illnesses, including heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat syncope, rhabdomyolysis, and heat stroke. The most serious of them is heat stroke.
When the body overheats as a result of physical exertion in or prolonged exposure to high temperatures, heat stroke may result. It happens when our bodies are unable to control their temperature. As the body temp rises, the sweat mechanism can fail, leaving the person unable to cool down. This dangerous condition can occur when the internal body temperature rises to 104 F or higher. It’s most common during the summer months.
People who get heat stroke must seek emergency treatment. If left untreated, it may damage the muscles, kidneys, heart, and brain. The longer treatment is delayed, the worse the damage may be. Untreated, the risk of serious complications, including death, increase.
Heat Stroke Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of heat stroke include:
- High internal temperature of 104 °F or higher
- Racing heart
- Impaired mental state or behavior including confusion, slurred speech, and seizures
- Loss of consciousness
- Shallow rapid breathing
- Lack of sweating (or profuse sweating)
- Flushed skin
- Nausea and vomiting
Hydrate Before, During, and After
According to the CDC, it’s important to hydrate before, during, and after going out in the heat. Drinking water before heat exposure makes it easier to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Once we’re in the heat, it’s essential to drink water before feeling thirsty. Once we feel thirsty, we’re already behind in hydration. And remember, dehydration can quickly lead to heat illnesses, including heat stroke.
When exposed to the heat, especially during exercise, it’s critical to follow the 20-minute rule and drink water every 15 to 20 minutes. That should equal 24-32 ounces of water an hour. It’s better to drink small amounts in shorter intervals than to drink large amounts less frequently.
It’s equally important to drink water after being in the heat. We need to replace the fluids lost to sweating. And the faster we start drinking, the less strain we put on our bodies from dehydration. For people who regularly work in the heat, it’s even more important to hydrate afterward. Chronic dehydration can lead to several different medical conditions, including kidney stones.
What To Do If You Experience Heat Stroke
If heat stroke is suspected, it’s imperative to get immediate medical attention. After calling 911, the first thing to do is to move the person into the shade or indoors and remove any excess clothing. Then try to cool the person in any way possible. That could mean putting them into a cold bath or shower, spraying them down with a water hose, icing, or placing cool wet towels on the person’s neck, head, groin, and armpits.
The best thing to do is to avoid heat illnesses altogether by following the simple 20-minute rule. Stay hydrated, and stay healthy!
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension
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