Stay safe and hydrated in sweltering summer sun
Officials from the Fort Knox Safety office are urging residents and employees to be aggressively proactive about staying safe and hydrated while working and playing under the summer sun. (Photo Credit: Eric Pilgrim, Fort Knox News) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT KNOX, Ky. — Though temperatures have taken a slight downturn so far this week, the past two to three weeks made it clear to everybody that summer is upon us.

As a result, officials from the Fort Knox Safety office are urging residents, cadets and employees to be aggressively proactive about staying safe and hydrated while working and playing under the summer sun. One culprit to keep an eye on is the wet-bulb temperature, which measures heat temperature, wind speed, solar radiation levels, and humidity.

“This area is known for having excessive humidity,” said Bobby Jenkins, from the Safety Office. “The thing about humidity is the higher it is, the harder it is for the body to cool because it doesn’t let the sweat evaporate off the body quickly.”

Stay safe and hydrated in sweltering summer sun
Officials at Fort Knox Safety offer several information brochures for leaders to display on heat-related illnesses to be aware of, including their signs and symptoms. The information is also offered in other languages. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of CDC) VIEW ORIGINAL

Jenkins highlighted some variables that can adversely affect health under hotter than normal weather conditions. One of those involves medications.

“Every medication comes with disclaimers that people need to talk to their doctor about,” said Jenkins. “Some of the medications, however, are extremely sensitive to heat. Some of them are fairly common.”

In a July 22, 2021 article titled “6 Medications That Can Make You Sensitive to the Heat,” Leah Campbell discusses the categories that raise the highest concerns: blood pressure medicine; antihistamines; decongestants; overactive bladder treatments; stimulant medications for ADHD; and, psychiatric prescriptions.

Taking some popular over-the-counter medications and supplements can cause severe sunburns. Other culprits include acne treatments and cosmetics.

“It’s worth knowing what the label restrictions are, what they do to you when the heat rises, and then talk to your doctor about it,” said Jenkins. “If you are used to going outside and doing physical activities and you recently started a treatment, be aware of these new limitations.”

Summer has a dark side to it for some, said Jenkins. There have been instances in the past where people have gotten busy or distracted and forgot about pets or children left in vehicles. Jenkins urged the Fort Knox community to take precautionary steps necessary to protect them.

“We lead busy lives. You can easily forget something in your car that you intended to bring with you,” said Jenkins. “Get in the habit of checking in the back seat area each time you get out of your car.”

Jenkins asked the community to also remember those who don’t speak English as a first language when talking about steps to prevent dehydration and heat-related injuries.

Probably the most common issue affecting all people in the summer, however, is dehydration.

“Dehydration is huge whether you’re on medications or not,” said Jenkins. “People need to make sure they stay hydrated. The easiest way to monitor that is what we see a lot in our bathrooms here; the urine color chart.”

Stay safe and hydrated in sweltering summer sun
Army health officials provide a very easy-to-understand color chart in many installation restrooms that give people a quick visual reminder to drink fluids on a regular basis. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of U.S. Army Public Health) VIEW ORIGINAL

The chart, developed by U.S. Army Public Health, provides a quick visual of what a hydrated individual’s urine would look like compared to someone who is dehydrated, or worse.

“The best thing to do is be proactive and drink plenty of liquids,” said Jenkins,” especially if your lips feel dry or you have dry mouth. Also, don’t plan on doing your hardest work in the heat of the day. Work that in during the morning time when it’s cooler.

“Stay hydrated, and work smart.”