Stay hydrated to avoid heat-related illness

21 July 2022

Drink enough fluids or water to stay hydrated and avoid heat-related illness when the temperature rises and on hot summer days.

Asian student sitting on a pink couch drinking a glass of water

Staying hydrated on hot days is key to avoiding heat related illness, especially during hot summer days. When the days become hotter and the temperature rises, dehydration can affect you and you may have problems concentrating or your performance may suffer. If you feel thirstier than normal or start feeling dizzy, light-headed, or start cramping you could be dehydrated and its essential that you rehydrate. Here are a few tips for staying hydrated.

When to hydrate

Its better to hydrate regularly throughout the day. If you wait until you are feeling thirsty you are likely already a bit dehydrated. Increase your fluid intake on hot days and drink water or fluids before you start working and continue doing so at shorter regular intervals when working in the heat – about 8 ounces or one cup every 15 to 20 minutes or about one litre every hour is recommended. Drinking water before eating or snacking is beneficial, and you should try to end your day with drinking a bottle of water (i.e., within a couple hours of going to bed).

What to drink

Water is best for keeping you hydrated. Try to avoid (or limit) alcohol, sugary drinks including carbonated drinks and sports drinks, or those with caffeine. Sugary drinks can increase your blood sugar level and excess caffeine can have a diuretic effect and affect your ability to efficiently regulate your body temperature. However, tea or coffee, in moderation, can help you to hydrate. Fruit juices are refreshing but can contain high levels of sugar, especially orange juice, so it is best to dilute these. You can also flavour your water with fruits, lemons, or even cucumber and mint.

Eat to stay hydrated

Eating healthy can also help you stay hydrated (about 20% of the water in our bodies comes from the foods we eat). Water-rich foods such as celery, cucumber, zucchini, melons, strawberries, or salads and fresh fruit can help you to stay hydrated. Try to avoid too many sugary frozen treats including ice-cream and ice-lollies – these are temporarily refreshing but require your body to work harder thereby raising your body temperature.

Wear appropriate clothing

Avoid strenuous outdoor activities (or staying indoors) and wearing light, loose-fitting, lighter-coloured clothing can also help you stay cool and avoid overheating.

Track your hydration

If you have problems staying on top of how much water or fluids you drink during the day, try using an app on your smartphone or laptop. Popular free hydration-tracking apps include Aqualert and Water Drink Reminder (both free on Google Play), as well as My Water Daily Drink Tracker free on the App Store

If you are worried about staying hydrated or are at higher risk for dehydration check with your GP to get more advice on how to look after your fluid intake, especially during hot days.

How UCL Student Support and Wellbeing can help

If you need some support, UCL remains open for current students. Make an appointment with one of our caring advisers, or, if you are living in UCL managed accommodations, speak to one of our friendly student residence advisers.