Keep Family, Pets Hydrated On Next Summer Drive

Long hours of monotonous driving not only challenges your concentration but your health, too.

Hot, humid days sap your body’s fluids. Like long distance runners who aren’t replenishing their system, driving in the hot sun can cause dehydration. Symptoms may progress so slowly and catch drivers off-guard.

Among some of the signs: Fatigue, lack of concentration, slow reaction time, headaches or worse.

So how much water should a driver drink?

Hydration studies were conducted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine shed light on hydration. The organization determined on average men should consume 15 cups (3.7 liters) daily and women should drink some 11 cups (2.7 liters).

Not all fluids come from drinking alone. NASEM estimates people get 20 percent of their water consumption from food.

The remaining 80 percent can come from water or drinks with water in them, like coffee, juice and tea. While sodas and sports drinks contain mostly water as well, NASEM suggests reaching for water first.

Why water? It’s calorie-free and readily available.

For road trips, consider stocking up on foods like watermelon and cucumber. They contain almost 100 percent water by weight and are easy to share while traveling. They also provide a fun, healthy alternative to bottled water.

And don’t forget to hydrate your pooch. Animals are particularly susceptible to dehydration, even while the air conditioner is blowing. Bring a jug of water and collapsible pet bowls.

Stop regularly to give your pets some water--especially if you notice panting. It’s their way of letting you know they need some attention.

Eldorado Artesian Springs, Inc., a Colorado-based water company, offers the following advice for staying hydrated while on the road.

  • Bring a cooler or insulated vessel. Drinking cold water can help lower your body temperature when you’re stuck in gridlock.
  • Infuse your water with fresh fruit. Fresh fruit can provide a boost of nutrients and electrolytes you’ve sweat out while behind the wheel.
  • Drink water to curb cravings. Want to stop for a greasy cheeseburger or indulgent chocolate bar? Some sips of water can help fill your stomach and stave off those cravings.
  • Pack fresh fruit. Berries and apples can fill your stomach and hold quite a bit of water. This helps reach your recommended daily water intake without having to drink it all
  • Drink twice as much water as coffee. If your road trip starts with a cup of Joe, drink twice as much water as your serving of coffee to prevent dehydration--as coffee is a diuretic.
  • Plan on pit stops. Drinking more water might mean more quick stops to the bathroom. Plan accordingly and leave yourself plenty of time to reach your destination.