If you’re climbing or trying to survive in extreme heat, everyone knows how vital water is, but few consider why they drink, only that they want to. 60% of the adult body is water, 73% of the brain and heart, 83% of the lungs, the skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79%, and the bones 31%. In the long term, water does many things in the body, but in the short-term, it helps to thermal regulation: hypothermia or hyperthermia only ever 2 degrees away. It’s vital that you can keep feeding your body water, and the 2-litre minimum per day is only a guide. In some situations, you can survive on much less, but in hot weather, you may need to triple or quadruple that. Once you begin to dehydrate, you will start to suffer impaired brain function and will be more prone to heatstroke, which can be debilitating and eventually fatal. Just as you’d not go scuba diving without enough oxygen to survive, don’t travel without enough water, like water, like oxygen, cannot really be rationed; limiting either is just slow death. An excellent way to boost evaporative heat loss is to carry a little plastic garden spray can, and use this on your face and clothes. Anything that aids in water palatability is excellent, and salts, in food, or added via drink powders are vital.
Also, remember never to drink the last drop of water, if you do, you’ll be ten times more thirsty. Lastly, although Arabs don’t know a lot about fine wine, they do know a lot about water, the consumption of which is part of the Islamic faith. Here’s what they say on the subject:
- Always drink from a cup, never from a container.
- Praise the almighty before you drink, or some variation on the theme.
- Never drink with the left hand.
- Sit down before drinking water. No matter the hurry.
- Take three breathing pauses between each sip. Don’t gulp.
- Do not blow or exhale your breath into the glass while drinking water.
- Praise almighty (or someone), when you finish.