|Outdoor activities are one way to enjoy the warm summer
weather, but personnel should be mindful that high temperatures pose a
significant risk for heat injury.
According to the U.S. Army Public Health Command, first prevention, then
early recognition and treatment of heat injuries are critical to curbing
One helpful source is Technical Bulletin
Medical 507, which can be accessed at
along with other heat injury related material. The manual describes the
symptoms of and treatment protocols for the three most-common heat
Guests at the Squaw Lake beach
take to the water as a way to mitigate the effects of hot
weather at Fort McCoy. The installation experienced temperatures
in the 90s, with heat indices surpassing the 100-degree mark
during the first days of July.
(Photo by Rob Schuette)
Heat cramp symptoms: Spasms in the arms, legs or stomach.
Treatment: Sip water, massage cramping areas and replace lost salt
through food. Never take salt tablets unless directed by a physician.
Heat exhaustion symptoms: Headaches, paleness, clammy skin,
excessive sweating, difficulty breathing, loss of appetite, nausea and
exhaustion. Treatment: Sip water, lie in a shaded area and rest,
and loosen or remove clothing.
Heat stroke symptoms: Headache, dizziness, delirium, nausea,
vomiting and body temperature of 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
Treatment: Heat stroke is a medical emergency and can be fatal.
Immediately call 911 and follow the dispatcher’s instructions for
treatment to perform before help arrives. Reducing body temperature is
paramount in rescue efforts, and the most-effective cooling strategy
entails removing the victim’s clothing and immersing him or her in cool
or iced water while massaging the skin (ice sheets or ice packs are
acceptable if immersion isn’t possible). Anyone suspected to be
suffering from heat stroke should be transported to a hospital
immediately, preferably by trained medical professionals such as
Many heat injuries are preventable, and none need be fatal. Leaders must
assess their unit’s mission and training requirements against the risk
associated with operating in warm weather environments. Heat illness
prevention requires a comprehensive approach that incorporates risk
management, education, acclimatization, and appropriate adjustment of
activities to reduce risk.
Individual risk factors include: lack of heat acclimatization,
cumulative exposure to heat, poor physical fitness, being overweight,
concurrent illness, use of prescription and over-the-counter medications
(such as antihistamines, blood pressure pills, and others), use of
various dietary supplements (such as the stimulants synephrine and
ephedra), recent or concurrent alcohol use, prior history of serious
heat illness, certain skin disorders, inadequate hydration, and age
older than 40.
Conducting operations in hot and humid environments, even with
temperatures as low as 75 degrees, produces the most heat casualties.
Personnel in the Fort McCoy community who need an evaluation of heat
injury symptoms should contact the Occupational Health Clinic
(civilians) at 608-388-3209 or the Troop Medical Clinic (servicemembers)
at 608-388-3025. Both are located in the Health Clinic, building 2669.
Sun protection also should be considered while training or participating
in outdoor activities.
Sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher should be applied approximately 30
minutes before sun exposure and reapplied at least every two hours
throughout the day. Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before
applying a repellent containing DEET.
When possible, work and rest should be conducted in shaded areas
especially between 1 and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are strongest.
Personnel also should wear wide-brimmed hats to protect eyes, head and
neck, and wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing to cover arms, legs
and torso. Eyewear should block UV rays and be wraparound in design, if
possible, to protect eyes from rays that come from the front and sides.
The Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security Range
Control continually monitors the heat index and routinely transmits the
heat category (1-5) to units training in the field. The heat category
can also be accessed 24/7 by calling 2-HOT (2-2468 or 608-388-2468).
At Fort McCoy the diversity of the terrain can cause the heat index to
vary from location to location. The heat index reading is taken at a
central location on the cantonment area and individuals must recognize
it may be greater at areas such as paved roads and lots, open fields,
and sandy locations.
At Fort McCoy the Installation Safety Office, building 1678, has a
variety of heat-injury prevention materials for personnel working or
training at the installation. For more information, call 608-388-3403.
(Information compiled from the U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety
Center, the U.S. Army Public Health Command and the Fort McCoy
Installation Safety Office.)