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 June 25, 2010

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Take action to help prevent heat injury

Every summer, the U.S. Army loses Soldier manpower to heat-related injuries.

Army Safety officials said leaders must be proactive and engage control- and risk-mitigation measures, coupled with direct leader engagement within their organizations to help prevent heat casualties. These losses can be reduced through the application of Composite Risk Management.
Graphic: Safe Summer logo

Soldiers often are required to train and operate in severe temperatures. However, heat injuries can occur even when temperatures are not extreme, and the cumulative effects of strenuous activities on Soldiers can result in heat casualties.
Some steps leaders can take to mitigate the effects of heat are to:

•  Monitor wet-bulb temperatures.
•  Ensure Soldiers are acclimatized.
• Adjust work and rest schedules and ensure Soldiers rest in the shade and modify uniforms as mission permits.
• Ensure Soldiers have adequate time to eat and drink water. A Soldier’s hourly fluid intake should not exceed 1 1/2 quarts and daily intake should not exceed 12 quarts or water toxicity may result.
• Brief Soldiers on the signs, symptoms, and treatment of heat-related injuries.
• Have a process in place that identifies Soldiers who have a history of heat-related illnesses/injuries or other risk factors and pay special attention to their individual activities.
• Rehearse the unit’s heat-injury immediate treatment and evacuation procedures during every training opportunity.
• Encourage the battle-buddy system to assist in monitoring each Soldier’s water intake and well-being.
Taking these preventive steps will help keep Soldiers safe from heat-related injuries and keep them in the fight, Army officials said.

In the Fort McCoy community, military personnel working or training at the installation can keep track of weather conditions, including the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature Index conditions, by calling 2-2HOT or 608-388-2468.

Conditions vary throughout the installation, thus the index may be higher or lower at various training areas. Additionally, degrees must be added to the recorded index if personnel are dressed in mission-oriented protective posture clothing.
Fort McCoy has a number of other resources to help protect Soldiers and members of the work force from heat-related injuries.

The Installation Safety Office (ISO), building 1678, has informational pamphlets about heat-injury prevention that are available to all members of the Fort McCoy work force.

For more information, call the ISO at 608-388-3403.

Seasonal and general safety information also is available in the safety section of the Fort McCoy Intranet, which is accessible through the website at http://www.mccoy.army.mil.

Soldiers at Fort McCoy who suspect they have a heat injury should contact the Troop Medical Clinic, building 2669, or call 608-388-3025 during business hours.

All emergency situations should be handled by calling 911 or going to a hospital emergency room.

After-hours nonemergency treatment should be handled by calling 608-630-6308.

Soldiers who have heat injuries are encouraged to report those injuries to the TMC to ensure proper follow-up care.

Federal civilian personnel in the Fort McCoy work force with heat-injury symptoms can contact the Occupational Health Clinic, building 1679, at 608-388-3209/2414 for treatment.

The U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center stands ready to assist leaders and units with tools and information including posters, videos and pocket guides — that can be found at the website https://safety.army.mil — to protect Soldiers during the hot summer months.

Additional resources are available at the U.S. Army Public Health Command (Provisional)/U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine website at http://phc.amedd.army.mil/heat.

(Compiled from information from the U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center, Fort McCoy Installation Safety Office, Troop Medical Clinic and Occupational Health Clinic.)

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