Health Tips for the Desert

Since we live in a desert, we have to be mindful of the stressors our climate places on us. There are steps you can take to prevent dehydration and sunburn when doing outside work or recreation.

Hikers near Abiquiu, NM. Photo: Pedro Szekely / WikiCommons

How much water does a person need in a day? It all depends on what you are doing (think sweating) and your size. Around 60% of an adult’s body is water. Heat realated hospitalizations and deaths are on the increase in NM and projected to triple in the next 30 years. We can teeter on the edge of a little dehydration and not notice much; thirst might not kick in at the beginning especially as we get older and our kidney function decreases. That is why it is advised to drink water regularly throughout the day. The most common advice is eight glasses (2 liters or a ½ gallon) a day for an adult. You will be getting additional water also by eating fruits and vegetables, which are at least 50% water.

If you are out working or exercising and sweating a lot, an additional three or four glasses of water during that time is in order. Since we also lose salts through our sweat, replacing some of the water with electrolyte packets or Gatorade is important.

Heat is becoming more extreme in the mid Rio Grande watershed. By 2030, 111 days annually are projected to be hotter than 90 degrees. Ninety degrees is considered a temperature when your risk of getting a heat related illness or death increases. What else can you do to protect yourself?

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