All about the water: scuba and dehydration in the winter months

What the heck are you going to do this next week other than study, work, study, work…

Feel like puking yet? That’s what I’m here for-to tell you what to do.

I have to tell you about this place called Seabase first because it’s so freakin’ cool. This place is a natural warm spring located just 40 miles outside of Salt Lake City that some crazy divers decided to stock with tropical fish and sharks.

That’s right, sharks.

Apparently the water is salty like the Great Salt Lake’s and they have a huge facility built in which you can go scuba diving or snorkeling. Don’t worry about the sharks though-they are Nurse sharks and are kept well-fed. They don’t even eat the other fish in the pools, though they’re more than seven-feet long.

The scuba pools are big enough to fit 12 people each without getting into each other’s way. It’s really not that expensive-it costs $15 to use the facilities and $20 to rent scuba gear. They also rent snorkel gear and wetsuits for $10. Lessons are offered and there is a greenhouse built over the water where you can get in and never feel anything cooler than the water-which is always kept at a comfortable 75 to 85 degrees. You need to make reservations to go, which can be done by calling (435) 884-3874.

If submergence isn’t your bag and you prefer elevating yourself from sea level, there are some things you should know about the very real dangers of dehydration in the winter. As soon as you get outside in the winter, moisture is taken from your mouth, lungs and throat with every breath because the body has to humidify wintery, dry air in order for the lungs to be able to use it. The body’s exposure to cold weather triggers a process called cold-induced diuresis, which raises blood pressure and makes the kidneys work extra-hard to produce urine.

Another startling statistic is that a normally attired skier exercising moderately to heavily at 32 degrees can lose four pounds of sweat in just one hour. This is 2 percent of a 200-pound man’s body weight.

Essentially, make sure to always remember that perspiring pulls liquid from the bloodstream, and if you’re not drinking enough to replenish it, the blood volume drops and the heart must pump harder to keep the diminished amount of blood circulating. This, in turn, diminishes muscle control and can make accidents happen easier.

An added risk of dehydration in the backcountry is that dehydration spurs vasoconstriction-when the body summons its reduced blood volume back into its core. This keeps the vital organs warm so you won’t die as easily, but it makes your appendages much more prone to frostbite.

So make sure you and your buddies are all drinking plenty of water-not booze, which dehydrates you and diminishes your ability to judge the opposite sex correctly-very dangerous in the wilderness, for sure.

A good technique for getting extra hydration throughout the day is to periodically fill your water bottle one-quarter full with snow. Shake it up from time to time and keep it near your body if you’re not cold. Do this every time most of the snow has melted away and you can get another half-bottle of water without worry. I’d only suggest this when you’re above the inversion level, though-you want your water to hydrate you, not to glow.

I’ll end by telling those of you not quite daring enough to brave frostbite about an event taking place on Feb. 21, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

A collection of more than 9,000 different butterflies coming into the Utah Museum of Natural History on campus will be shown to the public.

Make sure to bring your nets and pocket protectors.

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