Let's prioritize the well-being of our community and make this summer a safe and enjoyable one — John Cordes, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill safety director
FORT SILL, Okla. (July 11, 2023) — As the summer heat intensifies, it is crucial to exercise caution and prioritize safety to protect the well-being of Soldiers, Civilians, and Families at Fort Sill.
Despite the availability of effective techniques to prevent heat-related illnesses and injuries, these issues persist as a significant threat. On average, 2-3 Soldiers lose their lives annually across the Army due to Exertional Heat Illness (EHI), and over 1,000 Soldiers experience EHIs that require medical attention and result in lost duty time.
To ensure a safe and enjoyable summer, community members are reminded to remain hydrated and mindful of the sun as temperatures continue to rise. By practicing situational awareness and following simple precautions, common summer hazards like sunburns, heat injuries, insect bites, stings, and drownings can be avoided. John Cordes, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill safety director, emphasizes the importance of taking necessary measures to safeguard against these risks.
When engaging in outdoor activities, it is crucial to shield yourself and your family from solar radiation, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun's rays are strongest. Cordes advises against considering a tan as a fashion statement since it can lead to melanoma, a severe form of skin cancer, later in life.
Those spending time outside during the day should wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher for adults and 30 or higher for children.
Preventing Heat Exhaustion
When undertaking strenuous outdoor activities such as yard work, sports, or exercise, adequate hydration is essential. Cordes emphasizes the significance of drinking water before, during, and after these activities. Mild symptoms of heat exhaustion include thirst, fatigue, and muscle cramps in the legs or abdomen. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke, a medical emergency requiring immediate assistance. Taking more frequent breaks and maintaining proper hydration are key preventive measures.
Insect Bite Prevention
Another summer hazard is bites and stings from insects. The Installation Safety Office recommends refraining from wearing perfumes and colognes, as they attract bugs. Cordes advises those enjoying meals on porches or having barbeques in gardens to be aware that insects are attracted to the smell of meat, marmalade, and sweet drinks like coke and orange juice.
Every summer, many people end up in emergency rooms due to bee or wasp stings. Tick bites are also a growing problem, with Lyme disease being a significant concern. Cordes highlights the importance of recognizing tick bites, indicated by a skin rash resembling a bull's eye, and seeking medical attention promptly. Precautions to prevent tick bites include avoiding areas with high grass and bushes, wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants while outdoors (especially in wooded areas), and checking children thoroughly if they have been playing in tick-prone areas.
Water Safety and Drowning Prevention
Regarding water safety, swimmers are advised to visit only those swimming pools where lifeguards are on duty and to never swim alone. Close supervision of children is crucial. Please note that, as per Fort Sill regulations, swimming pools, excluding small plastic wading pools, are prohibited in Army Family Housing. Further details can be found on the post housing website at https://sill.corviaspm.com/fort-sill/fort-sill/faqs/.
Pool dimensions should not exceed 12 inches in height and 10 feet in diameter, and the pool must be emptied and properly stored when not in use. When water is present, continuous supervision by the sponsor or spouse is required.
Cordes underscores the alarming fact that children can drown in less than 5 inches of water.
"As the summer heat intensifies, it is crucial for Soldiers, Civilians, and Families at Fort Sill to exercise caution and remain vigilant," said Cordes. "By remaining hydrated, protecting ourselves from the sun's harmful rays, and practicing water safety, we can prevent heat-related illnesses, sunburns, and drownings. Let's prioritize the well-being of our community and make this summer a safe and enjoyable one."