Dehydration ~ Deaths

Joe Fury

Well-Known Member
G'day Adventurers

November the first or 1/11 is the 'official' start of the Wet Season, this possibly means Jack diddly to anyone in the leafy suburbs in any state of Australia, it simply implies the chance of rain ~ very heavy rain and possible cyclonic weather over the next six to seven months.

Well, for the bulk of people who actually live in the region above the Tropic of Capricorn it re enforces the absolute fact that it's just going to get hotter and if the rains come it will be a blessed relief and it'll be good for the land and vegetation, a pain in the arse to the resources sector and all those who feed off it, only because they can't control it and it effects their bottom line ~ financially.

All that aside there is a real serious side to the heat or high ambient air temperatures that come with the Wet Season, this is a NORMAL part of life but it is mind numbing reading the most recent stories regarding death(s) as a result of dehydration, yet in both of the most recent incidents the victims carried or had water with them, but still they perished?

Amazing to think that the young bloke who perished in October on a relatively straight forward 'nature walk' in the Kalbarri National Park was with a group of friends and none of them recognized the stress their companion was under that ultimately led to the 27 year old mans death.

The very next afternoon an English woman tourist came close to death, same place, same walk just a different outcome.

The most recent death is that of a Daniel Price, he was an experienced motor cyclist on a solo expedition in the Kimberley region, he was by all accounts heading back to Karratha where he was based ( Fly in ~ Fly out worker )

Mr Price was carrying ample supplies of water and food, yet he too did not recognize the stress he was under in trying to free his bogged motor cycle, as a direct result of this physical exertion in high ambient temperatures and reflected heat, he perished, his body was located last Saturday afternoon on a track near the Gibb River road, he had been reported missing on the previous Thursday, his mobile phone signal was tracked to his final location.

So what do you think we have gained or learnt from these two totally avoidable deaths due to dehydration?

Just a few years (wet seasons) ago a young surveyor did a perish within sight of his mine site work camp, he too had plenty of water but died, simply because he didn't drink enough of it, he cooked his brain and that would be a real shitty way to become a Legend of Australia's outback.

My guess is absolutely NOTHING, because it's something that has happened far too many times before and it will happen again, just hope it's not YOU - eh!

Safe travels : Joe Fury
 

Ditch

Well-Known Member
Very relevant post as the temps hit the high 30`s in my area this week, 39 forecast for tomorrow. Got to say I`m guilty of not drinking enough water at the best of times, but after the 2 weeks of 40+ temps in Jan-Feb this year Iv`e made sure I keep the water up when it`s hot. Makes a hell of a difference to your mental state, which is what probably happened to those people, seeing that they had water & didn`t use it. Confusion sets in pretty quick when you are dehydrated.
 

BlueCollie

Well-Known Member
I've started packing hydralite tablets any time we go camping. You can buy them in woollies and they are very easy to use and safe for the whole family. I keep a packet in the house at all times as well.
 

sharkcaver

Well-Known Member
Timely post Joe. personally I cant work it out.

I know I don't use enough water - aprox 1L total per day, and 3L over 24 hours when I walked 40K's into the GVD in May. But when its hot I drink.

What confuses me is for these two incidents they had water. I can understand both were probably exerting themselves, the bike rider could have parked up for the day and tried again later once it cooled. Not so much the young fella who had to walk out.

What I can't comprehend, is ignoring the bodies natural warning mechanisms of self preservation making them want to drink. Why didn't they and also seek shade/cool? To get to the point they did, there had to either be underlying medical issues or they deliberately forced themselves past a state of consciousness. That would be a mighty tough thing to do when they had supplies on hand. Surely seeking cool and water would be far easier?

On another note, we were informed last week a woman was stretchered off Mt Augustus last month suffering severe heat stroke, but she had ran out of water. She survived but we were told it was very close to another catastrophe.
 

Albynsw

Well-Known Member
The sad thing with these situations is that emergency coms are so compact and affordable these days there is no reason not to have than with you
Carry a PLB guys, they cost less than $300 bucks and might save your life one day
 

cam04

Well-Known Member
Timely post Joe. personally I cant work it out.

I know I don't use enough water - aprox 1L total per day, and 3L over 24 hours when I walked 40K's into the GVD in May. But when its hot I drink.

What confuses me is for these two incidents they had water. I can understand both were probably exerting themselves, the bike rider could have parked up for the day and tried again later once it cooled. Not so much the young fella who had to walk out.

What I can't comprehend, is ignoring the bodies natural warning mechanisms of self preservation making them want to drink. Why didn't they and also seek shade/cool? To get to the point they did, there had to either be underlying medical issues or they deliberately forced themselves past a state of consciousness. That would be a mighty tough thing to do when they had supplies on hand. Surely seeking cool and water would be far easier?

On another note, we were informed last week a woman was stretchered off Mt Augustus last month suffering severe heat stroke, but she had ran out of water. She survived but we were told it was very close to another catastrophe.
Step one is understanding that the brain is affected early on and rational thought patterns become hard to come by. I’ve seen it a few times on construction workers doing remote work in the top end/gulf over the years. Once they reach that stage they need first aid, not a drink, but they will try to refuse it because they aren’t thinking straight. They will continue trying to do a simple task that they have focussed on and simply forget to save their own lives. I’ve been pulled out of a confined space with heat stress and had no clue I was about to pass out. The boys heard the tool I was using just running but not working and they saved my life.
I hate to be one of those hindsight types, but I agree, travelling solo and remote there is no excuse to not carry a PLB or spot - either would probably have saved his life (If he had the presence of mind to turn on the PLB? That is a genuine concern, and precisely why workplaces have 'lack of motion' activated alarm systems. My Kti comes everywhere with me.
 
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Blue_haired_man

Well-Known Member
Great post, working or exercising in high temperatures is bloody dangerous if you don’t take the proper precautions.

The other thing that is often overlooked that sweat isn’t just water. As bluecollie mentioned hydralite or at a bare minimum salt tablets should also be carried. You need to replenish at least salts and preferably electrolytes and sugars as well, accordingly when out and about in high temperatures and or humidity.

I had to shift a hell of a lot of cattle yard equipment last week on a 35 degree day, went through about 6-8L of water, 8 salt tablets. Was bloody hot, but I pulled up fine.
Cheers Leo
 

cam04

Well-Known Member
Yeah, salt is what the body is looking for as well as water. In the heat, I behave like a (fat) tour de france bike rider - mix a hydrolite drink into your water to replace sodium, potassium and magnesium, eat bananas (cramps), and when it all goes to shit and you are near the end, smash a couple of energy gels and drink coke! Never underestimate coke to get you over the line, just don't start with it haha. We use a product called 'sqwinchers' at work - you get it at the safety shops.
 
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Joe Fury

Well-Known Member
G'day Adventurers
I am also guilty at times of not drinking adequate water, though water is always available.

The 60 litre Engel fridge that's permanently mounted in the rear of the Cruiser always has at least 12 X 600mL bottled water and a swag of 250mL fruit juice Tetra packs, these little buggers have bulk sugar, sodium etc, they may not be a trendy weight saver type drink, but there's enough flavour just to give a nice taste.

It's vital to give the Kidney's a good flush out so drinking or consuming large quantities of water is simply a smart thing to do for your bodies sake.

Many years ago while working in the mining industry, there were 'Piss charts' fixed to the walls above the urinals so when taking a leak, the leaker could check the colour of his/her urine.

I remember one particular KIWI workmate boasting about the rich dark yellow/orange colour of his urine ~ I must state this boast was made during an official work place safety meeting.

I am sure you won't be surprised to learn my KIWI mate is no more, he died alone on a haul road late in the afternoon while Jogging as part of his flawed fitness routine ~ I'm not suggesting his Caterpillar Yellow piss had anything to do with his very untimely end, but it possibly did not help and to jag it in at the age of 41 is a tad thought provoking.

Safe travels : Joe Fury
 
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Batts88

Well-Known Member
Also remember if you find someone that needs water or even yourself if you have not drank enough avoid gulping down cold water from the fridge it can or will cramp your gut not a nice felling and may make you vomit. Don't offer fruit juice or other products first water is best until their more stable depending on the level of dehydration.
 

Joe Fury

Well-Known Member
Also remember if you find someone that needs water or even yourself if you have not drank enough avoid gulping down cold water from the fridge it can or will cramp your gut not a nice felling and may make you vomit. Don't offer fruit juice or other products first water is best until their more stable depending on the level of dehydration.
G'day Batts88
You are correct regarding the cold water gulping scenario, the fruit flavoued drinks (in my case) are purely to enhance the normal water flavour and nothing more, I actually don't drink alcohol at all, though I know a lot of blokes who drink mainly beer and these buggers don't seem to suffer dehydration issues, but most of them wouldn't admit to having an issue of any description.
Thanks for your input.
Safe travels : Joe Fury
 

red99td5

Active Member
In the 90's I was a exploration geologist based out of Kalgoorlie, in summer sampling the drill rigs, everyone had a insulated water jug thing, held about 2 litres. Every hour the camp cook came and filled up the water, if u hadn't finished it when they turned up u had to skull what was left.
Thinking about it now as others have said they probably should have put tablets in to replace the other stuff lost to sweat as well.
I wonder if that guy who died disliked drinking hot water which it would of been by the sound of it?
 

greysrigging

Well-Known Member
Back in the day ( 1994 ) I was on a project at MacArthur River Mine near Borroloola. Our crew of 30 blokes were from a local Darwin company called EC&E. The majority of the workforce were FIFO interstate blokes working for Thiess and Transfield. During the course of the job our mob was the only crew who didn't have one single case of heat stroke/heat exhaustion.... the other crews had 1 or 2 cases every day. Back then, unlike today in the industry, there was simply little or no information or education re heat related illness.
Our crew, being locals, were fully acclimatized to the conditions. The Transfield blokes were dropping like flies.... why you might ask ? Well most of 'em were transferred up in June from bloody Canberra of all places. Canberra in June to 34c heat in Borroloola in June. So after the first shift, its hot, the Wet mess is open for business... few beers or more than a few..... and the poor silly bastards were buggered by smoko with heat stress.
I have seen it time and time again in the construction industry.... particularly in hot and humid Darwin. It is a deadly ( but avoidable ) condition and one must be able to recognize the symptoms. merely feeling thirsty is not enough.
 

cam04

Well-Known Member
We were based in brissy, our area was nsw Qld Torres straits, NT.
Invariably due to our expert management we would find ourselves rigging towers at point perpendicular in the middle of winter storms, and then hand mixing concrete slabs on some tropical paradise like connexion, haul round or east Vernon island 3 days before Christmas. We had 2 diabetics, one hyper, one hypo on the crew. We would literally fly in from Brisbane to wherever and be expected to perform. The first week was invariably not fun until we had acclimatised again. The big diabetic guys just couldn’t function for days while they got their levels sorted out.
 

Paddler Ed

Well-Known Member
I've just come back in from an hours mountain bike ride with the dog (7-8am, cool enough) and during that time I got through one of my big bike water bottles (750ml-ish) of proper energy drink (not the supermarket stuff/Coca-Cola Amatil's idea of it, although Gatorade is a good option); I pre-drank about half a litre of water as well.

After that I was thinking about this thread and there's a couple of points:
  1. I'm not sure that the sole cause of death was dehydration - I actually think it was hyperthermia
  2. Hyperthermia presents as confusion, hot to touch, poor decisions, nausea, muscle aches and pains and lethargy: very similar to the scenario's in the OP.
As others have said, some hydralyte tablets or sachets are worth having - we have a tube in each car, one in the kitchen at home - but these are only good if you're dehydrated, they won't do as much for hyperthermia. On a 30+ day we'll often have one in the evening when we first get home, along with some chips to help get the salt back up.

Hyperthermia requires removal from the heat, cooling down in a controlled manner and probably a visit to the hospital. Ambulance QLD have a good guide here, and the WA Royal Life Saving Society have a shorter version that's easier to read here. Whereas Healthdirect refer to it as heatstroke. Read the symptoms and match them to the OP scenarios, and I think you'll see that in the motorcylcist's case it was probably heat stroke that caused the dehydration.

Dehydration has a number of other symptoms, and those are easier to catch if you are aware of them. Healthdirect have some good bits, most of which the others have already mentioned.

As others have said, avoid beer and spirit fuelled camp activities in the heat - alcohol is a good way to dehydrate!

I tend to always have at least a 1 litre Nalgene bottle with me (I have done for about the last 15 years now) as that's a good amount to drink in the morning, same again in the afternoon, of just plain water. I have a smaller bottle that I'll use for hydralyte if I need it.

Lastly, do a wilderness/remote first aid course - they cover these sorts of scenarios a lot more than a standard 4 day course would. I worked in outdoor education and activity for 10 years and those sort of courses were the norm every 2 to 3 years, with the effects of hypothermia and hyperthermia drilled in to you, especially when working in warmer climates (South of France, Australia) because it was so different to the cold weather (whitewater canoeing and kayaking in England and Wales - we did break the ice on the water sometimes...) that we were used to.
 

cam04

Well-Known Member
Second the training. We had to do occupational remote area first aid, elements of shipboard safety, helicopter underwater escape training, Solas training...... That was just the life saving ones. We spent half our lives on courses.
 

Joe Fury

Well-Known Member
Second the training. We had to do occupational remote area first aid, elements of shipboard safety, helicopter underwater escape training, Solas training...... That was just the life saving ones. We spent half our lives on courses.

G'day cam04
Yes there is a huge plus or positive in respect to training but many training organizations don't appear to do a real decent job at training whether it's Life Saving stuff, or TRAIN Driving stuff, you only have to read about the HUGE COCK UP just a couple of days ago, regarding the derailment of a fully loaded ore train on BHP's inland rail network ~ so far it's around $50 Million damage wise and still counting, no lives lost thankfully, just unbelievable when you think how much this organization big notes and boasts about 'Safety Training'
Safe travels : Joe Fury
 

greysrigging

Well-Known Member
We were based in brissy, our area was nsw Qld Torres straits, NT.
Invariably due to our expert management we would find ourselves rigging towers at point perpendicular in the middle of winter storms, and then hand mixing concrete slabs on some tropical paradise like connexion, haul round or east Vernon island 3 days before Christmas. We had 2 diabetics, one hyper, one hypo on the crew. We would literally fly in from Brisbane to wherever and be expected to perform. The first week was invariably not fun until we had acclimatised again. The big diabetic guys just couldn’t function for days while they got their levels sorted out.

Yep, its all about acclimatizing be it heat or cold. The hottest most debilitating job I have ever done was not in the Pilbara or north west Queensland or the NT..... bloody Bendigo in Victoria ( January ) would you believe. Putting up a giant satellite antenna on the roof of the Telstra building right opposite the Cathederal. Up on that 6th story roof in blazing 40c high UV and radiated heat.... easy drank 15 litres of ice water a day and it still near got the better of me. One day was 42c in the shade, but it was overcast hazy all day. Way worse than Darwin that day. I flew in from a Darwin wet monsoon to Melbourne in baking dry drought, the hour and a bit drive to Bendigo and my skin was flaking and itchy just in the dry atmosphere.
Another time I was on holiday down south and I get a call to put up a dish in Brisbane, so I scooted back to Darwin then flew into Brissy. We had to survey the Dish at night.... a big cool change came through and the temp out Ipswich way dropped to 8c ( in December ! ) I had bugger all warm clothes, and shivered and shook for hours, coming very close to hypothermia. Boss thought I was being a sook, but I had trouble concentrating and even holding a spanner I was that cold.... simply not acclimatized for the conditions.
 

cam04

Well-Known Member
G'day cam04
Yes there is a huge plus or positive in respect to training but many training organizations don't appear to do a real decent job at training whether it's Life Saving stuff, or TRAIN Driving stuff, you only have to read about the HUGE COCK UP just a couple of days ago, regarding the derailment of a fully loaded ore train on BHP's inland rail network ~ so far it's around $50 Million damage wise and still counting, no lives lost thankfully, just unbelievable when you think how much this organization big notes and boasts about 'Safety Training'
Safe travels : Joe Fury
Yes I've been reading about it. In the good old days they would have just thrown a driver in a chopper and landed him on the engine. It would be a damn site safer than some of the ship/bush landings I've done - now we would rather sit around with our thumbs up our arses making sure we aren't the ones getting the blame. It is a real shame in a lot of ways.
They used to have 2 drivers all the time for situations like that - probably gone due to cost cuts. Few year's driver's wages up their sleeves in that stuff up haha.
 
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