By Directorate of Assessments and Prevention, USACRCOctober 16, 2018
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Oct. 16, 2018) - During a fire, seconds count. That's especially true when it comes to tent fires. A fire can engulf a tent in just 10 seconds and destroy it in 60. That gives Soldiers little time to react.
For Soldiers, working and training in all weather conditions is part of the job. As the mercury drops this winter, more Soldiers will seek heat from space heaters and stoves. Most of these devices will do their job properly, but they'll also increase a Soldier's risk to fires. In an effort to combat these risks, Product Manager Force Sustainment Systems manages a family of space heaters authorized for use by Army units. Units alerted for deployment should assess their environmental requirements versus on-hand space heaters and order the required heaters before deployment. Approved and tested Army personnel heaters include:
• H-45 (NSN 4520-01-329-3451): The H-45 replaced the old potbelly M-1941. The H-45 will heat general-purpose and TEMPER tents and burns liquid and solid fuels.
• Space Heater, Arctic (NSN 4520-01-444-2375): The Arctic heater replaces the gasoline-burning M-1950 Yukon heater and is a lightweight, portable heater for five- and 10-man Arctic tents. The Arctic heater burns liquid and solid fuels.
• Space Heater, Small (NSN 4520-01-478-9207): The small space heater is ideal for use in smaller tents such as the four-man Soldier/crew tent. It burns liquid fuel and has a built-in tank, precluding the need for an external fuel can and stand.
• Space Heater, Convective (NSN 4520-01-431-8927): The convective space heater provides forced hot air for tents and shelters. This heater generates its own power and recharges its battery.
• Thermoelectric Fan (NSN 4520-01-457-2790): The thermoelectric fan is a compact, self-powered unit that fits on top of any military tent heater. The fan uses some of the heat to turn the blades, which circulates heated air, improves comfort and saves fuel.
Another hazard linked with tent heaters is carbon monoxide, a poisonous, colorless, odorless and tasteless gas produced as a result of the incomplete burning of natural gas and other carbon-containing materials such as kerosene, oil, propane, coal, gasoline and wood. When breathed into the body, CO enters the blood and deprives the heart, brain and other vital organs of oxygen.
Low levels of CO can result in shortness of breath, mild headaches and nausea -- symptoms that are often confused with food poisoning, influenza and other illnesses. At moderate levels, individuals exposed to CO may experience tightness across the chest, severe headaches, dizziness, drowsiness and nausea. Extended or high exposures may result in vomiting, confusion, muscle weakness, collapse and even death. Leaders must ensure their Soldiers recognize potential sources of CO and the symptoms of CO poisoning.
Before using a space heater or stove in a tent, keep the following tips in mind:
• All heaters and stoves should be operated in accordance with the applicable technical manual.
• Place stoves in sandboxes when heating tents with wooden floors.
• Even in extreme cold, do not operate heaters at full capacity.
• Ensure tents have battery-powered smoke and CO detectors installed.
• In the event of a tent fire or suspected presence of CO, first and most importantly, evacuate the tent.
During the winter, it doesn't get much more miserable than being stuck outdoors in a tent. By following the proper precautions when using space heaters or stoves, Soldiers can ensure they'll stay warm and safe on the coldest of nights.
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