Whether you’re out on the trails, exploring a new location, or just relaxing in the sunshine on your camping trip, it’s important to stay properly hydrated! It’s not always that easy, and things happen, so if you ever find yourself in a situation where someone you’re with has become dehydrated, you’ll want to know what to do—and act fast! Follow these important steps of how to care for someone who has become hydrated so you can help them recover or get them the help they need.
Keep a close eye on the people you are with for signs of dehydration. Although young children, the elderly, and those with chronic illnesses like diabetes or kidney disease are at a higher risk than other groups, anyone can experience the effects of dehydration! It’s important to know what to look for so you can begin to administer help or seek medical treatment as soon as possible. The signs and symptoms of dehydration include:
For mild to moderate dehydration in adults:
• Increased thirst
• Dark urine, infrequent urination
• Decreased sweating
• Dry mouth, swollen tongue
For extreme dehydration:
• Little to no urination
• Little to no sweating
• Very dark urine
• Weakness, shakiness
• Dizziness, lightheadedness
• Low blood pressure
• Lethargy, confusion
• Shock with pale, clammy skin, chest pain
Dehydration in children:
• Crying, but little to no tears coming out
• Rapid, shallow breathing, or interrupted breathing
• Dry mouth
• Press on a fingernail until it turns white, then have child hold hand over heart level. If it takes more than two seconds for the nail bed to return to its normal pink color, they’re dehydrated.
• Lightly pinch skin on the back of their hand. If it doesn’t immediately spring back to its normal state, your child is dehydrated.
Once you’ve determined that a person is suffering from the effects of dehydration, you can begin to care for them to help overcome dehydration and feel better! Always keep a close eye on them to ensure that their symptoms aren't getting worse!
Treating adults with mild to moderate dehydration:
• Have them drink water/clear liquids in small amounts (electrolyte sports drinks, broth, popsicles, ice chips are fine)
• Ensure that they don’t drink too fast; it may cause vomiting
• Have them eat a snack of foods with high water content, like veggies and fruits (broccoli, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon, and strawberries)
• Monitor their fluid intake for the next 24 hours, making sure that they keep drinking fluids in small amounts, even if they don’t feel thirsty or dehydrated anymore
• Prevent them from drinking caffeine or alcohol
If dehydration is heat related:
• Have the person cease physical activities
• Move to a cool place, preferably with A/C (like in your RV), but the shade will work if not available
• Remove any excess clothing possible
Have the person lay down and prop their feet up to prevent fainting
• Cool them off with damp towels on their exposed skin, or use a spray bottle with lukewarm water
• DON’T use ice packs or ice water as it’ll constrict blood vessels, causing the body to further raise body temperature
• Have the person consume two liters of water or electrolyte sports drink over the next 2-4 hours
• DON’T allow the person to take salt tablets
To treat dehydration in children:
• Give child one to two teaspoons of a pediatric electrolyte solution every few minutes. If child vomits, increase frequency.
• Continue to give the child electrolyte solution to drink, or clear liquids.
• Ensure that the child rests for 24 hours.
When To Seek
Your help can only go so far if a person is extremely dehydrated, or if their condition worsens after they begin to recuperate! Monitor the person closely for at least 24 hours, or up to 48 hours if some symptoms still exist. If they do not improve, seek additional help if these symptoms persist.
Seek medical help if:
• Vomiting continues for more than one day
• Diarrhea more than two days
• Fever over 101 degrees
• No improvement in urine production
Go to emergency room if:
• Fever over 102 degrees
• No urination for 12 hours
• Chest/abdominal pains
HOW TO PREVENT
Drink fluids frequently. Drink extra during exercise or physical activity, especially if it’s warm out. If you’re headed out for activities like hiking, make sure to bring plenty of water along. In fact, bring more than you’ll think you’ll need, just in case!
Avoid alcohol. If you know you’re going to do some more involved activities, refrain from drinking before heading out. Encourage those you’re with to abstain too. Part of the fun of camping is enjoying some of your favorite cocktails around the campfire, but it should be avoided if it comes at the expense of your health!
Hydrate more when sick. When you or your kids aren’t feeling well, it’s really easy for dehydration to set in as it can be unpleasant when your throat hurts or your stomach is upset. Make sure to keep hydration levels up, and keep kids drinking electrolyte drinks if they’re feeling under the weather, especially if diarrhea is a symptom.
Wear breathable clothing. Heavy, restricting clothing will cause you to overheat and sweat more, meaning you’ll be losing moisture, leading to dehydration. Allow your skin to breathe and choose clothing that is looser and breathable!
Hydrate, but don’t overhydrate. In your enthusiasm to avoid dehydration, you could potentially cause overhydration! Drinking too much water can affect blood sodium levels, and when there is an imbalance like this, it causes cells to swell, including brain cells. The results can be unpleasant and similar to dehydration, with nausea, tiredness, and irritation as common symptoms. More seriously, overhydration can lead to neurological problems, and even death.
Now that you know the important steps of how to care for someone who has become dehydrated, you can keep an eye out for symptoms and help your loved ones recover from this unpleasant and dangerous affliction!
We here at RV World care about the safety and comfort of RVers, which is why our team of RV technicians work hard to keep your RVs safe and working like new! Not all Michigan RV dealers can say that! Whether you’re coming in for a tune up or looking for the best RV in safety and comfort, we’ll take good care of you here at RV World!
Have you ever experienced dehydration, or had to help someone else who has? Share your story with us in the comments and tell us how you made it through!