This summer is offering no respite from the extreme heat we are experiencing in the Central Valley. Last summer was hot, and it almost seems like déjà vu as we have seen triple-digit temperatures once more. Whether you are on Admin Side or Ops Side, the heat is relentless. Let’s not dismiss the risks associated with extreme heat as the consequences can sneak up on you. Depending upon how you find yourself affected by heat, it can have an effect on not only your productivity, but most importantly on your health and wellbeing.
Extreme Heat often results in the highest number of annual deaths among all weather-related hazards. In most of the United States, extreme heat is defined as a long period (2 to 3 days) of high heat and humidity with temperatures above 90 degrees. In extreme heat, evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature. This can lead to death by overworking the human body. Remember that:
• Extreme heat can occur quickly and without warning.
• Older adults, children, and sick or overweight individuals are at greater risk from extreme heat.
• Humidity increases the feeling of heat as measured by a heat index.
IF YOU ARE UNDER AN EXTREME HEAT WARNING:
• Find air conditioning.
• Avoid strenuous activities.
• Watch for heat illness.
• Wear light clothing.
• Check on family members and neighbors.
• Drink plenty of fluids.
• Watch for heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
• Never leave people or pets in a closed car!
HOW TO STAY SAFE WHEN EXTREME HEAT THREATENS
• Find places in your community where you can go to get cool.
• Keep your home cool by doing the following:
o Cover windows with drapes or shades.
o Weather-strip doors and windows.
o Use window reflectors, such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard, to reflect heat back outside.
o Add insulation to keep the heat out.
o Use attic fans to clear hot air.
o Install window air conditioners and insulate around them.
• Learn to recognize the signs of heat-related illness.
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Be Safe DURING
• Never leave a child, adult, or animal alone inside a vehicle on a warm day.
• Find places with air conditioning. Libraries, shopping malls, and community centers can provide a cool place to take a break from the heat.
• If you’re outside, find shade. Wear a hat wide enough to protect your face.
• Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
• Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. If you or someone you care for is on a special diet, ask a doctor how best to accommodate it.
• Do not use electric fans when the temperature outside is more than 95 degrees, as this could increase the risk of heat-related illness. Fans create air flow and a false sense of comfort, but do not reduce body temperature.
• Avoid high-energy activities.
• Check yourself, family members, and neighbors for signs of heat-related illness.
RECOGNIZE AND RESPOND
Know the signs of heat-related illness and the ways to respond to it:
• HEAT CRAMPS
o Signs: Muscle pains or spasms in the stomach, arms, or legs
o Actions: Go to a cooler location. Remove excess clothing. Take sips of cool sports drinks with salt and sugar. Get medical help if cramps last more than an hour.
• HEAT EXHAUSTION
o Signs: Heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, or fainting
o Actions: Go to an air-conditioned place and lie down. Loosen or remove clothing. Take a cool bath. Take sips of cool sports drinks with salt and sugar. Get medical help if symptoms get worse or last more than an hour.
• HEAT STROKE
o Signs: Extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees) taken orally; red, hot, and dry skin with no sweat; rapid, strong pulse; dizziness; confusion; or unconsciousness
o Actions: Call 911 or get the person to a hospital immediately. Cool down with whatever methods are available until medical help arrives.
Because of NAS Lemoore’s location, and the heat we experience on a regular basis, controlling heat stress is very important for our mission readiness, combat control and other functions, particularly those tasks that demand mental acuity. Significant heat exposure can increase manning requirements in specific locations and/or operations as the ability to do physical work in hot environments decreases and the need to make personnel substitutions increases.
The best defense against heat-related illness is to drink plenty of water, regardless of how active you are or whether or not you are thirsty. Stay away from very sugary drinks as well as caffeinated beverages as they can actually cause your body to lose more fluid. Sports drinks are a good alternative because they replenish the necessary salts and minerals you lose when you sweat.
Here at NAS Lemoore, we should all look out for each other, on or off the job. Check on each other. Whether you are out on the flight line or working indoors, we are all equally susceptible to heat-related illnesses. Regardless of your activity level, drink plenty of fluids – especially water – and more than you think you need. Use common sense when doing your job or working out and pace yourself. Take breaks when you can and monitor how you are feeling. Heat-related illness prevention starts with you .
The work we do here at NAS Lemoore is invaluable as it contributes to the Navy’s overall warfighting mission. Stay safe, look out for yourself and your shipmates and stay hydrated.