|Posted by Kundi (Roger) on June 10, 2012 at 1:40 AM|
Ever notice how irritable people get the first few warm games of the summer? We all start out with good intentions, calling our hits and complimenting other players on good shots or tactics, but as the day wears on there is more arguing and drama. Dehydration and increased core temperature may have more to do with it than having a bad day. In fact, irritability and confusion is just one of the signs of heat related illness, i.e. heat exhaustion. Others include heat rash, cramping, fatigue, confusion, increased heart and respiratory rate, increased body temperature, and in if not managed appropriately fainting and death.
Most of the energy produced during an activity is converted to heat. The concept is simple, the more we move the hotter we get. The body has many ways to control heat, and sweating/evaporation accounts for most of it. Once we become dehydrated 3%, our ability to regulate heat by sweating becomes impaired if the fluids are not replenished. Unfortunately, most people do not even feel thirsty until they are 5% dehydrated.
Airsoft can make it difficult for our bodies to stay cool. We live in a hot, dry climate and most of our games are held during the hottest part of the day, from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. A full load out, including chest rigs, simultaneously trap heat and reduce the body surface area where sweat can evaporate to cool us. To make matter worse, many players are truly weekend warriors who work in climate controlled offices during the week that limit our ability to adapt to heat.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate. Proper hydration before, during and after a game will reduce the risk heat related illness and allow you to play harder for longer. Drink even when you are not thirsty. Caffeinated drinks and alcohol are diuretics and will actually worsen the problem. Energy drinks are high in electrolytes and will actually make you more dehydrated. Water is one of the best for replenishing volume, but it does not replace electrolytes lost through sweating. Sports drinks are a great way to get electrolytes and water in your system, but watch out for those that have high salt and sugar content. The best advice: Get a hydration kit and use it!
Lighten Your Load. The more gear you wear, the less your body is able to radiate heat and cool itself by evaporation (sweating). Alice rigs are the ideal hot weather rig because little of your body is covered.
Acclimate. If you work inside all day your body becomes very efficient at regulating heat in that environment. You can train your body to cool itself better by exercising or working in the warm temperatures. Start slow and gradually increase how long and hard you are active when it is warm.
Recognize the danger signs. If you are starting to cramp up and feel irritated and confused, you need to cool down. Take off your chest rig. Stop moving and sit in the shade. Poor water over your head and shirt to evaporate. Drink. Drink. Drink. If you have a salty snack, down it with lots of water. Let someone know what is going on so they can check on you; people have been known to pass out . If you intervene at this level you will be fine. Push it too hard and you risk suffering heat stroke, which is fatal in the majority of cases.