Heat and thirst as a risk factor in an emergency and in an autonomous existence.

The concept of heat and thirst, as applied to an emergency, is the sum of several components – ambient temperature, solar radiation intensity, soil surface temperature, air humidity, presence or absence of wind, that is, it depends on the climatic conditions of the place where the accident occurred. 

Heat and thirst as a risk factor in an emergency and in an autonomous existence.

In addition, there are many special cases when a person for one reason or another may feel that he is hot. To do this, it is absolutely not necessary to climb into the hell of the Central Asian deserts. It is possible to languish from the heat in the Arctic. For example, when the quantity or quality of clothing worn by a person does not correspond to the work that he is currently doing. Situations are typical when a person, for fear of freezing, puts on all the clothing at his disposal, after which he starts bravely waving an ax, preparing firewood for a future fire.

. In this case, the heat acts as an ally of the frost, as it deprives the clothing of its heat-protective properties. Crossing in deep snow, climbing a steep slope, building snow shelters, running lead to exactly the same result, because all of the above and many other active actions release a significant amount of energy. That is why experienced tourists, climbers, and hunters prefer to take off excess warm clothing when performing heavy physical work, and wear it during rest.

Oddly enough this will sound, but the practice of tourism and mountaineering knows many examples when a person managed to get heat stroke during polar and high-altitude travels at sub-zero ambient temperatures. Typically, such an incident occurred on heavy sections of the route requiring maximum power, during the transfer of heavy cargo (40-50 kg backpack) and the abuse of warm clothing, especially when the upper storm jacket is made of windproof and waterproof material that impedes internal ventilation.

In these cases, it is very important to constantly monitor your well-being, change clothes on time, rest periodically, and occasionally “bleed” excess heat through the open collar and cuffs. Of course, the fight against overheating under the described conditions is not particularly difficult. And if there is any violation of the internal heat balance, then first of all the victim is guilty of this. The Arctic or highlands is not a place where it is permissible to die from overheating.

Sultry midday brings the traveler a little more trouble in the forest and forest-steppe zones. But here, if you wish, you can always find a shadow, a river or a lake to swim or moisten your headdress and face with cool water. And at the very peak of the heat, you can stop at a large halt, so as not to be wasted under the backpack from stuffiness and thirst.

Heat and thirst in an emergency in a desert or semi-desert.

It is much more difficult for a person in an emergency that occurred in a desert or semi-desert zone. And this is not due to the fact that it is very hot, but to the fact that heat and thirst enter into an ominous union here. And heat and thirst is already very serious! To understand the essence of the problem, we make a short excursion into physiology. The human body consists of almost two-thirds of water, that is, 50 liters of water is accumulated inside an adult weighing 70 kg! Moreover, the bones consist of 25% of water, muscles – 75%, and in the brain it is already about 80%. He, the brain, and suffers from a lack of water in the first place.

Water is the main medium, and in many cases, the main participant in countless chemical reactions, thanks to which our body exists. Therefore, insufficient, as well as excessive, water intake into the body seriously affects the general physical condition of a person. Excess water overloads the kidneys, heart, leaches salts necessary for it from the body. Workers in hot shops, whose water consumption is much higher than average, sometimes show signs of water poisoning: loss of sensation, vomiting, convulsions, intestinal upset.

Lack of water leads to weight loss, a significant loss of strength, thickening of the blood and, as a result, overstrain of the heart, which expends additional efforts to push thickened blood into the vessels. At the same time, the concentration of salts in the blood rises, which serves as a formidable signal for dehydration that has begun. The most sensitive to drying cells of the brain respond to the threat of dehydration by the immediate “pumping” of free fluid from the cells of the body. Up to 5% of the liquid is withdrawn without any consequences for the cells and, therefore, for the person himself.

But dehydration of the body, exceeding 15%, can lead to irreversible consequences, to death. If a person deprived of food can lose almost the entire supply of fat, almost 50% of protein, and only then approach a dangerous line, then the loss of 15% of the liquid is fatal! Starvation can last several weeks, and a person deprived of water dies in a matter of days, and in hot climates – even hours.

The need of the human body for water in favorable climatic conditions does not exceed 2.5-3 liters per day. Moreover, this figure is not only the liquid that we consume in the form of compotes, tea, cocoa and other drinks, but also the liquid that is part of solid foods, not to mention soups, gravy. In addition, water is formed in the body itself as a result of chemical reactions occurring in it. Here is how it looks in numerical terms: water itself – 0.8-1.0 liters; liquid dishes – 0.5-0.6; solid products (bread, meat, cheese, sausage, etc.) – up to 0.7; water formed in the body itself – 0.3-0.4 liters. It is important, especially in an emergency, to distinguish true water hunger from apparent.

Thirsty for improperly organized water consumption.

Very often, a feeling of thirst arises not because of an objective lack of water, but because of improperly organized water consumption. One of the indicators of thirst is a decrease in salivation in the oral cavity. With a 15% decrease in salivation, the first thirst arises, at 20% the thirst is more pronounced, and a 50% saliva deficiency creates an intolerable thirst. A feeling of initial dry mouth is often perceived as a feeling of intense thirst, although dehydration as such is not observed. A person begins to consume a significant amount of water, although there is no real need for this..

An excess of water while increasing physical activity leads to subsequent increased sweating. Simultaneously with the abundant removal of excess fluid, the ability of body cells to retain water is impaired. A peculiar vicious circle arises – the more a person drinks, the more he sweats, the stronger the heat and thirst. An experiment is known when people who are not accustomed to the normal quenching of thirst, drank 5-6 liters of water in 8 hours, while others cost 0.5 liters under the same conditions.

Indicative in this respect is the story when two regiments made a lengthy march to the steppe. After a hard day spent under the scorching sun, the shelves went to the water source. One commander allowed the soldiers to drink without restriction – how much he could fit, and another significantly limited water consumption, which, of course, caused discontent among all personnel. As a result, the first regiment was completely out of order. The soldiers swelled, could not move, complained of insuperable weakness. In real combat conditions, as the intermediary officer assessed the situation, one combat-ready company of the enemy would be enough to destroy and capture this regiment.

In all cases, it is not recommended to drink plenty of water in one gulp. Such a one-time fluid intake will not quench your thirst, but can lead to swelling, weakness. It must be remembered that the drunk water does not quench thirst immediately, but only after it reaches the stomach and is absorbed into the blood, that is, after 10-15 minutes. It is best to drink water in small portions at short intervals until it is fully saturated. Sometimes, in order not to waste water from a flask or emergency stock, it is enough to rinse your mouth with cool water or suck on a sour candy, caramel. The taste of the candy will cause reflex to saliva, and your thirst will decrease significantly..

If there is no candy, it can be replaced with fruit stone or even a small clean pebble. With intense sweating, leading to leaching of salts from the body, it is advisable to drink slightly salted water. The dissolution of 0.5-1.0 g of salt in one liter of water will almost not affect its taste. However, this amount of salt is usually enough to restore salt balance within the body. The most tragic of all is heat and thirst during the summer in the desert. Perhaps in this zone, heat and thirst leave a person less likely to save than even in the Arctic – cold.

In the fight against frost, a person has a considerable arsenal of funds. He can build a snow shelter, generate heat by consuming high-calorie food, protect himself from the effects of low temperatures with the help of warm clothes, he can make a rooster, keep warm, doing physical work. Using any of these methods, a person can save life for a day, two or three. Using all the possibilities, you can resist the elements sometimes for whole weeks. In the desert, only water can prolong life. There are no other methods available to a person in an emergency.!

Based on materials from the School of Survival in Natural Conditions.
Andrey Ilyin.

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