WATER_HYDRATION

Rhedley Bly, 3, of Strasburg, tips back a bottle of water while on a swing outside his Branch Street home Tuesday morning. Experts recommend lots of water for good health and to keep cool in the heat.

Water is essential to life and good health, but even more urgent when it’s hot outside.

This week, as temperatures spike into the high 90s, experts are advising residents to keep cool with regular breaks from the sun and plenty of water.

“It’s a big deal. People die of heat,” said Dr. Tamara Spriggs, of Front Royal Family Practice.

When it’s especially hot and sunny, she recommends people stay inside or in the shade.

“If they don’t have to be outside, they really shouldn’t be,” she said.

For those who are outside, “They should be taking rest and water breaks.”

The National Weather Service is reporting high temperatures around the Northern Shenandoah Valley this weekend and next week, said Howard Silverman, a senior meteorologist in the Sterling office.

The forecast for Friday and Saturday is a high of 97 and low of about 75.

“Combine that with the amount of humidity in the area, our forecast for right now, for what it would feel like is above 100 degrees,” he said. “It is going to be not just a hot weekend but a hot week, and everyone should be cognizant of that.”

Water is best for hydrating the body and keeping it working right, said Spriggs, who cautioned against reaching for drinks like smoothies, iced coffee or margaritas.

“Lemonade is not water,” she said. “Coke is not water.”

Sugar, alcohol and caffeine can be detrimental to a body low on water.

“The more you need water, the more alcohol will affect you,” she said. “The more sugar you drink, the more dehydrated you will become.”

Though she said that’s true for any sweetener, it applies to sugar even more.

Spriggs recommended people drink a serving of water for every serving of any other drink, even electrolyte-replacement drinks that athletes and others might use if they’ve been sweating excessively and are concerned about replenishing minerals like magnesium and potassium. Such drinks may contain ingredients like sweeteners, caffeine and artificial colors or flavors.

“There is no substitute for water,” she said.

Contact Josette Keelor at jkeelor@nvdaily.com