Respect the heat
June 10, 2014
Outdoor activities are one way to enjoy the hot summer weather, but Soldiers and family members should be mindful that high temperatures pose a significant risk for heat injury.
Recent temperatures in the Grafenwoehr area exceeded 90 degrees in the past few days, which many saw as the perfect excuse to take a dip in the Freizeitsee just a few miles away.
However, as the temperature rises, so do the risks associated with heat-related injuries.
"It's a common occurrence to find unattended children or pets in parked vehicles around the PX, commissary, post office and shopette," said William Whitman, safety director, U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria, who mentioned he noticed three such vehicles, June 9. "One minute is one minute too long when it's 90 degrees outside."
Whitman stressed that even on cooler days, temperatures inside cars -- even with the windows cracked -- can be dangerous for children and pets.
Likewise, community members should exercise caution when exercising outside this summer.
"The effects of heat on your body are cumulative," Whitman said. "If you are getting exhausted from heat today, and take time to rest, that doesn't necessarily mean you'll fully recover by tomorrow. It takes a lot of time to recover from heat-related exhaustion."
According to the U.S. Army Public Health Command, prevention and early recognition and treatment of heat injuries, are critical to curbing weather-related deaths.
Soldiers have been trained to prevent and identify heat injuries on duty, and they can apply that same knowledge to protect themselves and their family members 24/7.
One helpful source is Technical Bulletin Medical 507/Air Force Pamphlet 48-152 (I), which describes the symptoms of and treatment protocols for the three most common heat injuries.
• Heat cramps. Symptoms: spasms in the arms, legs or stomach. Treatment: sip water, massage cramping areas and replace lost salt through food. Never take salt tablets unless directed by a physician.
• Heat exhaustion. Symptoms: headaches, paleness, clammy skin, excessive sweating, difficulty breathing, loss of appetite, nausea and exhaustion. Treatment: sip water, lie in a shaded area and rest, and loosen or remove clothing.
• Heat stroke. Symptoms: headache, dizziness, delirium, nausea, vomiting and body temperature of 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Treatment: Heat stroke is a medical emergency and can be fatal. Immediately call 911 and follow the dispatcher's instructions for treatment you can perform before help arrives.
Reducing body temperature is paramount in rescue efforts, and the most effective cooling strategy entails removing the victim's clothing and immersing him or her in cool or iced water while massaging the skin (ice sheets or ice packs are acceptable if immersion isn't possible).
Anyone suspected to be suffering from heat stroke should be transported to a hospital immediately, preferably by trained medical professionals such as paramedics.
Above all, Whitman stressed hydration, especially when the temperatures rise.
"Hydration starts days and hours before you exercise," Whitman said. "You should continuously consume water to stay hydrated, not guzzle it right before a workout."
For additional information on heat injuries, contact your local garrison safety office (Tower & Rose Barracks: DSN 475-7734, Civ. 09641-83-7734; Hohenfels: DSN 466-1670, Civ. 09472-83-1670) or visit https://safety.army.mil.
Editor's Note: U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center Public Affairs contributed reporting.