By Capt. Hee J. Kimuthor, Winn Army Community Hospital, Department of Preventive MedicineJune 20, 2008
FORT STEWART, Ga. -The hot Georgia summer weather is here, and it is imperative to take time to remind commanders, noncommissioned officers, Soldiers, and all other Army personnel about preventing heat injury.
Heat injuries are very prevalent in our Army as the incidence of heat stroke hospitalization among our Soldiers increased almost eight-fold during the past 20 years. Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield has already suffered seven heat-related injuries this year.
Contrary to popular belief, these heat injuries occurred not only in extreme field settings, but both in garrison and operational environments.
Heat injuries commonly occur during unit or individual physical training, the Army Physical Fitness Test, training exercises, recreational exertion and non-exertion activities. The personal health, safety and well-being of our Soldiers, civilian personnel and Families are top priorities of the Army. Heat casualties represent a serious threat to medical readiness and fitness of our military personnel, both in garrison and during deployments.
Heat can kill, prevention works. Remember to:
Aca,!Ac Drink enough water to replace your sweat losses.
Aca,!Ac Don't wait to feel thirsty; your body may need water before you feel thirsty.
Aca,!Ac Remind your buddy to drink water. Refill your canteens at every opportunity.
Aca,!Ac Look at your urine. If it is dark or you have not urinated, you need to drink more.
Aca,!Ac Do not follow low calorie diets while training in a hot environment.
Aca,!Ac Do not take any dietary supplements containing ephedra at ANY time.
Aca,!Ac Eat meals to replace salts. Drinking too much water and not eating enough salt may be fatal.
Notify others if you are:
Aca,!Achave a headache
Aca,!Acnauseated or have vomited
Aca,!Ac feeling very tired or weak
Aca,!AcConfused or your buddy notices you are "acting differently"
Aca,!AcSick or were sick yesterday
Aca,!Ac On any medication
Commanders and NCOs are charged with preventing heat injuries. Your local medical service plays a key role in supporting commanders and NCOs in their effort to protect Soldiers and Army personnel.
The main reference guide for heat injury prevention is detailed in TB MED 507, Heat Stress Control and Heat Casualty Management. That document, as well as additional guidance and many other valuable heat injury prevention resources are available through the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine Web site at: http://chppm-www.apgea.army.mil/heat. Commanders and NCOs may also obtain current Fort Stewart WBGT reading at Winn Army Community Hospital Web page at: http://www.winn.amedd.army.mil/wetbulb.html or by calling 767-HEAT (767-4328).