By: James Reder, Community Health, Image & Breakthrough to Nursing Director
The summer heat is upon us, and so are the festivities! To cool down, many people find themselves by a lake, a pool, or a sprinkler set up in their backyard. This Fourth of July, many adults will choose an alcoholic beverage to quench their thirst and beat the heat. Drinkers should be cognizant of their alcohol consumption because alcohol and heat can be a dangerous combination.
With the temperatures increasing this time of year, it is important to stay hydrated. Alcohol is a diuretic meaning it causes your kidneys to release water. When you are sweating due to the warm weather on top of urinating excess water due to alcohol’s diuretic effects, you are more likely to become dehydrated. Dehydration can cause fatigue, dizziness, and confusion and could cause you harm if you are operating a motor vehicle, such as a boat, or swimming in a body of water. Drinking alcohol and operating any motor vehicle is never safe. Additionally, alcohol is a vasodilator, and when mixed with hot weather, one is more susceptible to fainting.
The CDC suggests it is important to drink 16 to 32 ounces of fluids each hour to avoid dehydration. It is important to not wait until you are thirsty to drink water. Beverages that will help you cool off and hydrate your body include water and sports drinks. Try to avoid beverages that contain high amounts of sugar because they can further support dehydration. Sports drinks can be helpful in moderation, but should be consumed within serving size guidelines because heavy consumption will add excess calories to your diet due to the sugar (CDC, 2017).
Click here to learn more on how to avoid Dehydration and Heat stress.
A Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08 is the legal definition of drunk if you are over 21 and 0.02 if you are under 21. If you have a BAC of 0.02 you will have impaired concentration and may be unable to focus on moving objects or multitask. A BAC of 0.05 will cause you to have some loss of small-muscle control and take longer to respond to emergencies. A BAC of 0.08 will cause impaired speech, balance, vision, reaction time, and the ability to swim safely. These effects are heightened by sun exposure and heat which is why you may be at higher risk even if you do not have much to drink.
Other important things to consider this Fourth of July and all Summer:
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