Capt. Matthew Frickey, chief
Eisenhower Army Medical Center
The calendar moves closer to the official first day of summer, June 21, and the weather has offered blistering heat with heavy humidity well before the Summer Solstice.
For those who work and train outdoors, it's essential to understand the risk of strenuous activity, heat and humidity to physical health. This is why each unit on Fort Gordon should track these factors and be prepared to raise awareness of dangerous conditions before they happen.
Eisenhower Army Medical Center's Environmental Health department regularly measures these conditions with a WetBulb Globe Temperature device which takes a measurement of the heat stress in direct sunlight, taking into account temperature, humidity, wind speed, sun angle and cloud cover (solar radiation). This differs from the heat index, which takes into consideration temperature and humidity and is calculated for shady areas. If you train, work or exercise in direct sunlight, this is the proper element to monitor weather conditions.
The WBGT is derived from a combination of temperatures from three thermometers -- wet globe for humidity, black globe for solar factor and dry bulb for the ambient temperature.
The kit contains all three thermometers as well as a calculator for determining the WBGT, which is used to calculate the heat category. The heat category determines the recommended water consumption and work-rest cycle.
Monitoring the WBGT index is particularly important for soldiers in training, allowing soldiers to train and work safely while factoring in the weather of that day. It is a unit responsibility to record the WBGT Index at your specific training site and implement control measures as necessary.
Along with the kit, post personnel can also access a general WBGT reading for Fort Gordon by calling Environmental Health at 706-787-1279. While accurate, the WBGT is in full sun most of the day, so the reading may not be applicable to your specific training area. That's why it is so important to take independent readings.
Let the wet bulb globe temperature and your physical condition -- not the task -- dictate how long you work. Stay ahead of dehydration by hydrating before outdoor activities and drinking enough water during outdoor activities.