Reasons to hydrate and pay attention to heat index

Base Info

Reasons to hydrate and pay attention to heat index

by: Maj. Jung Lee, 51st Aerospace Medicine Squadron | .
Bioenvironmental Engineering | .
published: June 18, 2012

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- As the temperature rises, families gather for annual vacations and children are released from school until the fall semester. It is official; the beginning of summer has finally arrived.

One of the problems we have during the summer months is heat stress. Heat stress is defined as any thermal stress above normal body temperature applied to the body, primarily from environmental factors, such as ambient temperature, relative humidity, wind and radiant heat from the sun.

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 determine reactions to working in hot conditions, and it can be useful to learn other precautions to stay healthy and fit to fight.

There are many ways to prevent these injuries before they happen. First and foremost, hydrate. Water is the best medium to hydrate due to the fact it is the main component of sweat. Without hydrating, the most physically fit people in the world can be prone to heat stress. As most of us all remember in basic training. hydration should take place according to light, medium and heavy workloads, not to exceed one quart per hour or 12 quarts per day. Page 216 of the Airman's Manual contains a quick reference for determining workloads, water intake recommendations and work rest cycles to prevent heat related injuries. You can also refer to Air Force Pamphlet 48-151, 51st Fighter Wing Supplement located at Air Force Publications.

People conducting outdoor activities on particularly hot days 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 Korea heat [up to 10 days]
-- Modify activity schedules to perform the heaviest work at the coolest time of day
-- Supervisors must monitor the heat categories to ensure all personnel are compliant with preventive work-rest cycles.

The Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight will monitor the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature from June 1 through Sept. 30 unless weather patterns (unusually hot or cold) indicate an adjustment is warranted.

The index is reported to the base command post, who reports this information to other base organizations as needed. Base personnel can access the most current WBGT index via Commander's Access Channel or by calling the Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight.

For more information on this topic, contact the BEF at 784-2623. If after duty hours, please contact the on-call BEF technician at 010-9300-8960.

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