During one of our recent training classes, we had a student share a lesson they learned a few years ago that we feel is worth sharing. They said they became ill and passed out on the job one day when the heat index was about 110. Their employer allowed them to go home and rest instead of sending them to the clinic for treatment. So they went home, showered, went to bed, and woke up 3-days later!! After waking they decided to go to the hospital to get checked out. Several tests were ran and in addition to dehydration, a high amount of potassium was found in the employee’s system. Upon further investigation, it was determined that this individual was consuming large amounts of highly concentrated sports drinks and not enough water. They shared that the company they were working for at the time would only provide sports drinks in 5-gallon coolers, but they would fill the cooler FULL of ice first, add SOME water, and then add the drink mix. On hot days the contents of these coolers would be consumed well before the ice got a chance to melt (leading to a highly concentrated mixture). So the lessons learned here are…
1) Most doctors recommend consuming more water than sports drinks (3:1 ratio) when working in the heat, so water is the best thing to provide.
2) If sports drinks are provided, make sure they are mixed properly.
3) Any time an individual experiences a serious heat-related illness they should be evaluated immediately by a medical professional.