By Command Sgt. Maj. Karl Roberts June 9, 2011
Garrison Command Sergeant Major
Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem
Things are really heating up around here, both figuratively and literally. This week Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem witnessed four color casing ceremonies, a change of command ceremony and the decommissioning of both the Fort McPherson Post Chapel and Cantonment Chapel on Fort McPherson.
The frantic pace of events is making time fly by, figuratively burning through the less than 100 days remaining until closure. Even “summer” seems to be moving at a frantic pace. Though we don’t officially greet summer until June 21, the season already seems to have visited.
This week we’ve seen temperatures creep into the mid 90s, with the actual heat index making temperatures feel well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. At these temperatures can pose a lot of problems especially to young children and older adults. And while these individuals are at high risk, even our fit Soldiers and Civilians can be injured by the heat. By dehydrating the body, the heat makes people more susceptible to heat injuries.
Everyone should refamiliarize themselves with the three types of heat injuries: heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Heat cramps symptoms include cramps of the stomach, legs or arms, Dizziness and extreme thirst are also common. First aid should entail moving to a cooler area, into the shade, drinking water and transport to a medical facility if necessary.
Heat exhaustion is more dire. Symptoms include cramps, dizziness, headaches and weakness. Victims of heat exhaustion may appear drowsy and pale, and their skin may feel moist and/or cold. Victims should be moved to a cooler place where they should lie down with their feet elevated. Clothes should be loosened and if the victims is conscious, should be given cool water. Medical attention should be sought out.
Heat stroke is the last and most serious heat injury and always requires medical intervention. Symptoms include a lack of sweat, red, hot skin and dizziness. Individuals may experience seizures, confusion, nausea, rapid breathing and an increase in pulse. Medical attention should be called immediately, as heat stroke is life threatening.
NCOs, as leaders it is important that you make sure your Soldiers are properly hydrated, especially if some function, whether work or involvement in a ceremony, involves being out in the sun for extended periods of time.
Make sure water and aid stations are available and that first aid trained personnel are ready to handle an incidents that occur. Also, if doing work, make sure to follow the work/rest guidelines. Parents should also be sure to watch their children. Now that school is out, little ones may be spending a lot more time outside. Ensure they are drinking water, not soda or sugary drinks, as they can increase dehydration.
Heat is the number one weather related killer in America according to the National Weather Service, killing on average 162 people a year. While deadly, heat injuries are preventable. So whatever you are doing, make sure you are also doing your part in preventing heat injuries.