Even with temperatures not rising much above the lower 80s to
date, Soldiers training or working outside at Fort McCoy still are at
risk for heat injuries. And with the Fourth of July just around the
corner weather prognosticators predict it is likely that hot weather
still will occur this summer.
Soldiers, as well as civilians, in the Fort McCoy community who
work or enjoy being outdoors are encouraged to take precautions to
avoid heat injuries, said Fort McCoy Installation Safety Office (ISO)
officials. Soldiers can track weather conditions and other important
training information via radio contact with the Range Control office.
Weather conditions and/or the current wet-bulb globe index
reading at Fort McCoy are available by calling (608) 388-2468 or from
on-post telephones by calling 2-2HOT (2468).
Soldiers who have been treated for a heat injury at a civilian
medical facility must report to the Troop Medical Clinic (TMC) the
next business day and bring all paperwork generated by the civilian
facility, said TMC officials.
One of the biggest misconceptions, according to Chief Warrant
Officer 3 Marcelo Assumpcao of the U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety
Center, is that heat injuries can't occur if the weather isn't hot.
Heat injuries are possible as the result of the cumulative effects of
strenuous activity over a period of time even during low-risk
temperature conditions, Assumpcao said.
Leaders must remain engaged in order to provide the best
protection for their Soldiers. Assumpcao said the best defense against
heat injuries remains knowing the symptoms and proper prevention
strategies. Soldiers' risk history, including earlier exposure to heat
and prior heat injuries, and possible dehydration are two factors to
keep in mind.
Another factor is monitoring Soldier movements. Sophisticated
technology, such as devices that use the Global Positioning System,
can help track Soldiers' locations. The low-tech buddy system still is
a convenient method.
Soldiers and leaders should know the symptoms and proper
treatments for all types of heat injuries.
At the top of the prevention list is drinking plenty of
liquids. Thirst is not a good indicator of lost fluids.
Personnel working in hot weather are encouraged to take
frequent breaks and, if possible, have a shady place to rest.
Wearing clothing with loose, lightweight fabrics encourages the
release of heat.
Personnel working in heat should take seven to 10 days to
acclimatize before working up to full-speed activities.
Keeping in good physical shape leads to a healthy heart and
good muscle tone, which helps generate less heat.
Eat light during the workday as hot, heavy meals create body
heat and divert blood flow to aid digestion.
Be aware of special heat stress risks. Caffeine, alcohol,
diabetes or medications for high blood pressure and allergies can
increase the risk of personnel developing heat stress.
Use the composite risk management program.
Additional information about heat injury prevention can be
found at the Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center Web site at https://crc.army.mil,
which includes a heat injury prevention video at https://crc.army.mil/videos,
and the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine
(CHPPM) Web site at http://chppm-www.apgea.army.mil/heat/.
The Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center also addresses heat
injury prevention as part of its topics in the 101 Critical Days of
Summer safety campaign.
The CHPPM Web site is a good source of training presentations
and training aids, such as handouts and posters, that have a lot of
heat-injury prevention and treatment information.
For more information at Fort McCoy, military personnel can call
(608) 388-3403 or visit the Fort McCoy Extranet site, which is
accessible through the public Web site http://www.mccoy.army.mil,
and clicking on the Safety Section.
Soldiers can contact the TMC at (608) 388-3025.
(Information included in this story is from
the magazine "Knowledge," the official safety magazine of
the U.S. Army.)