Korean summer: Pay attention to heat index changes

Base Info

Korean summer: Pay attention to heat index changes

by: Capt. Crystal Brown, 51st Aerospace Medicine Squadron | .
published: June 01, 2013

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea  -- As the year progresses, the temperature rises, children are released from school, and members of U.S. Forces Korea travel around the peninsula and abroad.

One of the challenges that military members and families face during the summer months is the heat and humidity. The summer temperatures in Korea range from 70-100 degrees with 90 percent humidity, which may cause heat stress.

Heat stress is defined as any thermal stress above normal body temperature, primarily from environmental factors, such as ambient temperature, relative humidity, wind, and radiant heat from the sun.

Heat related injuries can include dizziness, cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The body's exact response to these environmental conditions depends on physiological factors such as weight, physical fitness, age, alcohol consumption and acclimatization to the weather.

These factors contribute to injury in hot conditions, and it is useful to learn other precautions to stay healthy and fit to fight tonight.

There are many ways to prevent heat injuries before they happen. First and foremost, hydrate. Water is the best way to hydrate because water is easily absorbed by the body. Without hydrating, even the most in shape athletes can experience heat stress.

Page 216 of the Airman's Manual, AFPAM 10-100, contains a quick reference for determining workloads, water intake recommendations, and work-rest cycles to prevent heat related injuries. In addition, the Center for Disease Control recommends one cup of water every 15-20 minutes when engaging in strenuous activities in the summer heat.

People planning on attending or participating in outdoor activities this summer should obtain information concerning the Heat Stress Index and follow preventive measures as follows:

· Drink plenty of water, small amounts frequently throughout the day
· Wear loose-fitting clothes
· Avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages if engaged in strenuous activities
· Be aware of heat injury symptoms and first aid for heat injuries
· Slowly acclimate yourself to the Korean heat (it may take up to 10 days)
· Modify activity schedules to perform the heaviest work at the coolest time of day

The Commander's Channel, Base Weather Channel, and Osan AB website will maintain an updated Heat Stress Advisory. The flag conditions are as follows:

White - 78 - 81.9 degrees - No Restictions

Green - 82 - 84.9 degrees - Use discretion in planning strenuous activity

Yellow - 85 - 87.9 degrees - When mission permits, limit strenuous exertion; avoid activity in direct sun; observe personnel for water consumption and signs of heat illness.

Red - 88 - 89.9 degrees - When mission permits, curtail non-essential strenuous tasks; avoid activity in direct sun; observe personnel for water consumption and signs of heat illness.

Black - 90 and higher - Highest risk of heat casualties; suspend all but essential strenuous tasks to meet operational requirements; avoid activity in direct sun; observe personnel for water consumption and signs of heat illness.

Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight personnel will monitor the heat stress index from May 1 - Oct. 30 unless weather patterns change and adjustment is warranted.

When the ambient temperature reaches and remains at or above 78 degrees, the Heat Stress Index will be monitored at least hourly until the Heat Stress Index reaches below 78 or until 5 p.m., whichever comes first.

For more information on Heat Stress, both the Center for Disease Control and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have topics dedicated to heat stress prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/heatstress/ or http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/index.html.


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